Fr Kevin Neal
The curious thing about the stroke that I suffered is that I never really suffered total memory loss but I do have a partial loss.
The loss is in the production of what I want to say. I have everything ready to be presented in my mind, the mind is made up and raring to go, then there is a terrific blank.
Either my mind forgets the pathways or the whole thing becomes a blank.
For some, like me, who make their living with speech, it is really hard going. I have to avoid those situations and hang back in the crowd scene.
This took a long time to learn and I’m still learning it. It’s especially difficult with folk who don’t know me and who want to have deep discussions on the homily I’ve just presented or the article they’ve just read.
What they don’t realise is that my homily is from the past, up to 15 years ago, even though it is presented now.
As soon as I start to think up a homily now, my mind goes completely blank.
It’s frustrating but excellent penance for a teacher who became a priest, I often think!
I’m sort of a prisoner inside my own head. The facts are very often there but do you think I can get them out?
Another very practical reality came up recently. I’ve looked, rather longingly, at a full ‘qwerty’ keyboard for my cell phone. One recently came on the market and I promptly got my shekels together and bought it.
My cellphone is my lifeline and I take it everywhere. But when you stop and think about it, a one-handed keyboard isn’t a great idea but it really looked the part. I thought this machine’s extra facility of an extremely good keyboard would be straight from heaven.
Well, it wasn’t. Every time I looked at the machine something would spring into life and I’m sure people got calls from me that I didn’t even know about.
My imagination got way ahead of the actual practice of using the phone.
It’s a great phone but no use to someone with only one hand.
I grappled with it for two days but after that I knew it had to go.
A teenager now has the phone and it’s fulfilling her every wish!