A Dublin architect who was diagnosed with motor neuron disease three months ago uses his artistic talent as a painter to convey a message of hope in a series of stunning and thought-provoking paintings.
Raser Holden, 52, from Rathfarnham has suffered rapid health decline and is unable to walk, but his black and white paintings, which will be featured in a fundraising exhibition later this month, speak of the inner light and optimism he holds on to.
The black symbolizes death but the white shines through to show where there is light there is hope.
His pictures also convey how precious time is for everyone and how we need to be in the moment.
His wife Orlagh and daughter Oonagh, 7 – who contributes her own painting depicting her vision of the disease – are inspired by his spirit and courage.
Ms Holden said the exhibition shows how her husband is using his creative talent to stay on the “white side” despite the daunting challenges of the disease.
She told how her husband – who worked with architecture firm Henry J Lyons – was in good health earlier this year and believed he had a pinched nerve that was causing him problems with his hip.
“He had a fall and thought it was his back because years ago he had back problems. The GP said he might need back surgery, but referred him to another doctor for further tests,” she said.
“He had an MRI and other tests. They said a worst-case scenario is motor neuron disease. We waited three weeks for the results but believed they would be positive.”
However, the dreaded diagnosis turned out to be motor neuron disease, with a prognosis of two to five years of life.
She said she “thought that two to five years is a long time in a child’s life” so she didn’t have to break the news to her only child right away.
However, due to the rapid deterioration of her health, the young girl now knows about her father’s illness.
Mr. Holden can no longer walk fully, brushing his teeth and dressing is difficult, while his speech is slurred. “He can go up the stairs once a day, but I have to be behind him,” Ms Holden said. “He can’t go out of the house or do a lot of the things that we take for granted every day.”
A few years ago he was illustrating a book for his daughter when she wouldn’t let go of her pacifier.
“It’s about giving up something. Now we have to get the book out again because it’s about saying goodbye and going to a better place,” she added.
A measure of Mr. Holden’s resilience and creativity is that he studies music production, which contributes to his positive mental attitude.
He has also worked on a Virgin Media documentary exploring why, in a country so good with funerals and death, we have such a hard time talking about dying.
The exhibition will take place on 20 October at 7.30pm at the Richmond Education and Event Center on Brunswick Street, Dublin 7 and a number of Mr Holden’s fellow artists will also be attending.
Proceeds from the art will go to the Motor Neurone Disease Association, and ticket sales will support his personal journey.
He drew strength from former RTÉ journalist Charlie Bird, who also has motor neuron disease, and has been at the center of raising awareness of the disease and raising huge funds.
There are more than 420 people living with motor neuron disease in Ireland. About 150 new cases are diagnosed annually.
The Holden family said they are very grateful for the support they have received.
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/health/father-battling-motor-neurone-disease-is-sharing-a-message-of-hope-through-his-art-exhibition-42037512.html Dad, who suffers from motor neuron disease, shares a message of hope with his art show