IRONDEQUOIT — At one point, Irish musician Joe Dady said he remembered a “white space” he felt his soul enter. Indeed, he later learned that those around him thought he was dying.
“It was whiter than white,” Dady said. “A feeling of peace and serenity came over me.”
Yet, while he was in that “white space,” something wouldn’t let him go.
“I had this feeling that I had a rope tied around my ankles, and that all my friends and family were pulling me back with their prayers,” Dady said.
Dady, a parishioner of St. Matthew’s Church in Livonia, had countless people praying for him after he suffered an aortic dissection on his birthday, Jan. 8. An aortic dissection is a failure of the aorta, the artery that carries blood from the heart to the brain and other organs. A few days later, a stroke left nearly his whole body paralyzed. Even if he lived, he was looking at a physically challenging future.
After undergoing physical therapy, however, Dady apparently forgot all about how bad off he was supposed to be. At St. Thomas the Apostle Parish on March 20, he was on stage playing his fiddle, singing songs and generally having a good time. To see him, one would have never known he was close to death only weeks before.
Dady is one half of The Dady Brothers, an internationally famous Irish music duo that long ago made its mark on the Rochester area, and that has performed throughout the United States, Canada and Ireland. With his brother, John, Joe Dady has shared the stage with such musical luminaries as the Clancy Brothers, Tommy Makem, Arlo Guthrie and Rick Danko.
Yet, it’s not their famous friends that have endeared the Dady Brothers to the Diocese of Rochester’s Catholics. The Dadys have been generous with their time and talent, and have played countless benefits for various causes, including diocesan schools. A parishioner at Holy Rosary in Rochester, John is married to Carol Dady, diocesan coordinator of priesthood vocation awareness.
Joe Dady has made an almost complete recovery from what ailed him, although it did take some effort, John noted.
“He had to learn to swear all over again,” John said with a smile.
The March 20 benefit concert raised about $2,700, and was one of many efforts made by supporters of the Dady Brothers to help Joe pay for his hefty medical expenses. A February concert at Hochstein School of Music and Dance in Rochester drew more than 900 people — not to mention 300 who were turned away at the door, John said. Additionally, Holy Rosary Parish also hosted a pancake breakfast to raise money for Joe. Meanwhile, fans of the Dadys from around the world have sent letters and e-mails of support, John said, noting that the first week of Joe’s illness the duo’s Web site at dadybros.com had 33,000 hits.
“You don’t really know what an impact you’ve had until something like this happens,” John said.
St. Thomas’ parish center was filled with scores of people who would have seconded John’s notion. Dorothy Hayes, one of the event’s organizers, said booking the Dadys was a win-win proposition.
“It was a great way to help with Joe’s medical expenses and entertain the parish,” she said.
Another event organizer, Mike McBride, a parishioner of Our Lady of Victory in Rochester, penned the honorific “When Dady Brothers Are Playing,” sung to the tune of “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling.” The 450 people or so assembled were led in the song by St. Thomas choir member and occasional director Dick Lawrence. McBride noted that the Dadys were like McNamara’s Band of the famed song — they had played at weddings, wakes and funerals for his family.
“For years, they’ve raised money for numerous causes in Rochester, and we wanted to repay them,” McBride said.
Carol Dady added that Joe’s illness, and the community response, have occasioned reflection.
“I think these past couple of months have given all of us — Joe’s family, friends, and Joe himself — an opportunity to stop and thank God for the fragile gift of each other and for the talents we have to share,” she said.
“People have been very generous to me,” Joe added. “I really believe the good Lord had his hand on my shoulder through all this.”