From the Heart
Kathy Thomas believes a chance encounter saved her husband’s life—several times.
“Jim had a heart condition and in 1990 his cardiologist referred him to Dr. Charles Edwards, then a heart surgeon, for a valve replacement. We were so taken by his manner. He asked about our lives. He and Jim had college sports in common— he made a personal connection. Jim respected him and listened to him. Dr. Edwards was a natural teacher, always surrounded by interns and residents. That operation saved Jim’s life…and meeting Chuck saved us both.”
Dr. Edwards stayed in touch with Kathy and Jim, providing friendship and medical advice over two decades.
Kathy continues, “Just as Dr. Edwards left surgery and started what became Memory & Movement Charlotte, our second journey was beginning too. Jim was showing early signs of dementia, and I didn’t know where to turn. We used to see a podiatrist on Randolph Road, and one day I looked up and saw Chuck’s name on the office next door! Again, he appeared when we needed him most.”
The Thomas family became one of MMC’s first patients, and this time Kathy says Dr. Edwards saved her. “He explained what was happening and why, but also how to cope. When Jim didn’t recognize a very familiar airport, I came to the office in tears, and the staff gave me great advice—to be calm and quiet and lower his anxiety by saying something like ‘Jim, let’s sit for a few minutes. I’m tired. Let’s sit together and have some tea.’ Making Jim relaxed and comfortable made all the difference for us both. MMC taught me that sometimes compassion is the best medicine.”
As Jim’s condition progressed, MMC helped Kathy navigate each new stage. Jim passed away in early 2020 and Dr. Edwards was there. “We were a team and I always knew I wasn’t alone,” Kathy recalls.
PAYING IT FORWARD
Today, Kathy is a strong advocate and supporter of MMC. “There are so many resources here, I tell that to everyone in a similar situation to mine. Caregivers need to know help is available. Seeing the new office I feel a sense of permanence. Dr. Edwards’ vision has grown into something too important to go backwards. I’m happy to make an annual donation to help other families who need these services.”
Kathy muses about the future. “I especially appreciate that Chuck is still teaching, the way he did with his residents so long ago. He’s helping others—caregivers, physicians, the whole community—know how to deal with this. I couldn’t be more grateful.”