Broadcaster Joe Little recalls dad’s time in hospice - 'he cried before he said his last goodbyes to them'

RTÉ broadcaster Joe Little has recalled how his father wept as he prepared to tell the youngest of his 10 children, aged five, that he had to go to hospital and would not be coming home for Christmas.

“As the younger ones came to his room at home, he cried, before he said his last goodbyes to them,” said Mr Little. “He was 51 and had been diagnosed with terminal cancer and I was a student at the time. The youngest, who was a special needs child, was just five. I was with him when he spoke of how he had to break the news to my younger siblings that he would not be coming home for Christmas.”

Mr Little spoke of his father’s death as he launched a book on the history of Milford Hospice in Limerick, A Journey of Hope, written by Sr Brigid Finucane of the Little Company of Mary who set up the hospice.

Ted Little, a dentist who worked in Limerick and was a member of the Mid-Western Health Board, was one of the early palliative care patients looked after in Milford Hospice.

“Our mother Úna and relatives tried to spare the younger children the experience of a very sick father at home before he went to Milford Hospice,” said Mr Little.

“As dad grew closer to death he recorded his memories and read a lot from the Bible and scripture. A priest came on Sundays to give him the eucharist. Then as the weeks went on he was told his medical situation had become unsustainable. It was at that time I heard my dad cry when he had to prepare to tell the youngest children that he had to go to hospital and they could not visit him.”

He said his dad liked a small Irish Red Breast whiskey and somebody bought him an expensive bottle of Scotch malt whiskey which he kept by the bed.

“I was with my mum and the three nuns who were at Milford when he died. I can still hear my mum’s cries of despair when he passed away.”

A Journey of Hope recalls the history of Milford Hospice which cares for almost 2,000 patients each year at its in-care facility and in the community.

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