Coronavirus impact: Daughter who lost dad to virus warns against rush back to normal society

Coronavirus impact: Daughter who lost dad to virus warns against rush back to normal society
George Callis with his grandson Zach

A psychotherapist who was unable to sit at the bedside of her father as he died of Covid 19 at Cork University Hospital (CUH) in March has urged the public not to be in a rush to return to the "new normal."

Retired postman and father of six George Callis (73) of Elm Road in Togher in Cork city passed away on March 26.

He was diagnosed earlier that month following a routine test after another patient in the hospital was found to have contracted the virus.

His daughter Deirdre says George immediately went into isolation.

The “shutters” went down and all normalcy disappeared.

Some of Mr Callis's ashes will be placed on the grave of his late wife Margaret next month to mark what would have been his 74th birthday. 

A gathering to celebrate his life will be held at a later date.

Deirdre Callis says we need to be cautious about our behaviour given the potential for a resurgence of the virus.

She stresses that whilst the yearning to go back to our old lives is normal there is much to be learned from the less hectic pace of the last few months.

"I am proceeding with caution. When you have been hit with it (Covid 19) you have a very different perception of the world. The world has changed. We have to renegotiate the world we are going back in to.

"I don't think it (Covid 19) is gone at all. I think there could potentially be a second wave and what happens then?

"The scattering of the ashes in July on my Mam's grave. That is going to be the beginning of the grieving process for our family. 

"It will be the first step as we didn't have a funeral.

"In ways I don't want to go back to normal. Back to being frantic. It is a long road back to 'normal.' And we need to take our time getting there.

"Lots of people have lost family members and have gone without funerals. There is much grieving to be done.

"My own family haven't been able to be together. I live in Dublin.

George Callis with his grandson Zach
George Callis with his grandson Zach

"We as a family have not had the opportunity to access all the support that would be associated with deaths/funerals.

"But the one thing it hasn't robbed us of is the life we had as kids, the memories we hold in our hearts and courage to move forward the best we can."

Mr Callis, who lost his wife Margaret to cancer in 2004, worked on the buses before getting a job as a postman. 

He delivered around Glanmire in Cork city and was a keen trade union man who negotiated for better conditions and pay for his colleagues.

The sudden loss of his wife left a massive hole in his life as they did everything together. 

A doting grandfather he was also a massive Cork City Fan and attended all their matches. He also fundraised thousands of euro for CUH over several decades.

Deirdre said that she and her siblings have fond memories of childhood trips to their mobile home near Redstrand beach in West Cork.

On one memorable occasion her sister's hair was accidentally dyed from blonde to green leading to much merriment amongst the family.

She cherishes her memories of her father belting out "Sweet Caroline" or "You are always on my mind" in the local pub during the summer holidays. 

Those were innocent times she said being brought up by loving parents who did everything they could for their children.

"We had an amazing life and two very hands on parents. We had great times in Redstrand with the black and white tv with the hanger!!

"I remember during the school holidays he would head off at 5am in the morning to put up his post delivery and he would swing back around home at about 6.30am and one of us kids would be waiting to go off to work with him for the day.

"He would have a small wooden box in the front of the van next to him that would be our seat. 

"We would take up pride of place with the bundle of letters on our laps handing him his next letter shouting out the address of the next house all around this delivery in Glanmire.

"He was a lovely dad. The little comfort we have is that mam and dad are reunited."

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