Christy Dignam has been left heartbroken after his beloved father, Christy Snr, lost his battle with Covid-19.
The former CIE employee (89), sadly passed away this afternoon after contracting the virus while in a Finglas nursing home.
A dementia sufferer, he was diagnosed with Covid-19 ten days ago.
In a cruel twist, Christy Jr was unable to visit him due to his own battle with amyloidosis, a rare form of blood cancer.
The Aslan frontman (59) has paid tribute to his father, describing him as an “amazing man” who was his biggest influence in life.
But he said his one regret is that he was never able to give him a final hug, and to tell him how much he loved him, before he passed away.
He said that the impact of the virus, which has already claimed over 1,200 lives in Ireland, is “like something out of a horror movie; it’s surreal what’s happening”.
“We were obviously very lucky; it’s a lottery what kind of parents you have. I just wanted to go up and visit him and hug him and tell him how much I love him, and I couldn’t do that. It’s horrible,” he told Independent.ie.
A father-of-eight with 11 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren, the entire family went up to the nursing home last Saturday to see Christy Snr through the window for one final time.
Christy Jr said his father’s health declined rapidly following the visit as he seemed to accept that the end was near.
“We all stood outside the window and we all waved at him but when the nurses were bringing him down, they were all in the suits with the masks. It was like something out of a bleeding horror movie, it’s surreal.
“Two hours later, he went to bed and when he woke the next day, the nurse said that it was like he’d given up or something.”
His family was contacted on Monday and told that the nursing home would allow three visitors to see him as he was “at the end now”.
His sister visited Christy Snr but said he wasn’t responding verbally.
Christy Jr said he bitterly regrets that the pandemic has robbed him of the chance to be with his dad at the end of his life.
“Before the pandemic started, when he first went into this home, I was hoping he would just close his eyes and pass away because the type of man he was, if I had shown him that was where he was going to end up, he would have said, ‘Shoot me now. Don’t let me f***ing go there’,” he said.
Six months ago, Christy Snr contracted pneumonia and ended up in hospital, but he subsequently developed dementia and had to go into a nursing home.
“He never came back to us after the pneumonia. It obviously triggered the dementia. I was talking to him on the phone the other day and he was saying, ‘Why are none of you coming up to visit me?’
“I was trying to explain but he couldn’t understand. I think he thought that we had abandoned him.”
Christy says it’s “so hard” that they won’t be able to give him a proper send-off due to the restrictions on funerals, which limits the church congregation to nine mourners.
“He has eight kids, all in relationships, and loads of grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Only nine of us can go, so the whole thing is just a horror scene,” he said.
Anyone who did visit Christy Snr in recent days can’t attend the service as they must self-isolate for two weeks.
“It’s just really messed up. It’s horrible but everybody’s going through it at the moment,” added Christy Jr. “We were half expecting him to get it (Covid-19) because it’s flying through the [nursing] homes.
“He’s 89 and in the big scheme of things he’s had a great life, but it’s still very tough.”
An employee of CIE for 40 years, Christy Snr worked as an upholsterer for the buses and also repaired people’s furniture.
Paying tribute to his father, Christy said he worked six days a week to give them the best life he could.
A former pupil of the Artane Industrial School, it was there that he learned to cook and bake.
He used to make apple cakes for his children every Sunday while listening to opera music.
Christy credits him with fostering his love of music.
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