A Message From Our President - June 2022

In June 2022, VirtualMed Staff remains focused on neurology, especially since it’s Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month. Both are highly important, even as they are draining on patients and their loving families. Having witnessed my mother’s dementia move forward both aggressively and quickly, I feel it’s important to share my own experience.

While it clearly began sooner, my mother’s dementia became unavoidable in 2017, and there was no doubt that her memory had begun to decline rapidly. She began forgetting the names of some of her children, driving became very difficult, and she confused nights with days, which lead to middle of the night phone calls. They would often be rambling and difficult to follow, if they could even be followed. However, I have a memory I like to return to whenever I think about my mother.

In December of 2017, she called me at about 2:00 am. I kept my smartphone by the bed, and when I picked it up, she immediately said, “Have you seen the moon?” Her voice style had changed by then, and most of her comments sounded like questions. I was struggling to wake up fully, so I asked her what it looked like.

There was a long pause, and then just for a moment, I heard her say something lovely and simple, in the true voice of my mother, “You should see it. It’s beautiful.” Even then, I knew she wasn’t sure which of her sons she’d called, but I got up and went to the window to look. And above me in the sky was a beautiful full moon, beaming down. I told her I was looking at it and agreed it was beautiful. Another long silence passed, and then she asked me again, “Have you seen the moon?”

That simple, beautiful, painful question is something I will never forget.

A few months later, after a difficult set of discussions with our siblings, we agreed to get my mother tested by an Atlanta neurologist who I had known for many years. He promptly identified the issues, the problems, and what lay ahead for my mother and for us. There was no good news. Learning this created more frustration for my siblings until a few months later when we collectively agreed she would need help in an assisted living environment.

For several months, she could function somewhat, even as her memory worsened, until a certain day came, and the end was near. We all went to her bedside, and there was no happy ending. After a time, she passed away in September of 2018. It seems like something from many years ago, even as it seems like something that just happened.

What has stayed with me through it all is that brief moment when my mother asked me that beautiful question, “Have you seen the moon?” It’s something I think about often, and it’s what keeps me happy somehow, here in this lovely summer month of June, even as so many people I know are faced with similar challenging endings.

Let this month be a time in which we can all recognize the great challenge of dementia and, at the end, the ongoing question so many of us face, which is just this – “Have you seen the moon?” 



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