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'A Light That Never Went Dim.' Daughters Honor Their Mom, Patsy Moore, A Veteran Miami-Dade Teacher

Patsy Moore1.jpg
Courtesy of Joanna Moore
Patsy Moore, 79, was a long-time language arts teacher in Miami-Dade public schools who died from COVID-19 on Aug. 19, 2020.

Here in Florida, more than 30,000 people have died from COVID-19.

That is not just a number — it represents family members, friends, neighbors and coworkers, and we’ve been hearing from the people who loved them.

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Now, Angela and Joanna Moore tell the story about their mother, Patsy Moore, who died of the disease in August at 79 years old.

Below is Angela and Joanna's discussion of their mother, which has been lightly edited for clarity:

ANGELA MOORE: I really want to share that my mom, the best way to describe her was: She was a light that never went dim.

My name is Angela Moore and my mother was Patsy Moore. She was born in Wilkesboro, North Carolina, in 1940.

She went to college in North Carolina. She went to Bennett College. She came to Miami with a roommate who said she was coming here and she knew no one here. The only reason she came was because her roommate said, "Patsy, I'm going to Miami." And she said, "OK, I'm coming with you." So back in those days, that was a pretty big deal, not having any family here.

JOANNA MOORE: Hello, my name is Joanna Moore.

My mother had tremendous courage and it took into us being adults to really realize how scary that would be in 1958 as a Black woman to come alone to a big city. She's from a small rural town.

When she got here to Miami, she started off [teaching] at North Dade, which was a high school. That's a middle school now, but it was a high school at the time. And then from there it was Allapattah Middle School and then Brownsville Middle School. And then she retired from Westview Middle School.

ANGELA: She met my father at North Dade school. He was a teacher there as well and they got married pretty soon after they met. Ultimately, she had five children, two sisters and two brothers. One brother has passed. She really cherished us so, so much even in our adult lives. She held us up.

JOANNA: She had the very first Apple computer, I remember she had to drive all the way to Fort Lauderdale to get that computer and she went to Barry...

ANGELA: Well, it was Macintosh at the time.

JOANNA: Oh, Macintosh. She went to Barry and got her master's in computer education.

Patsy Moore2.jpg
Courtesy of Joanna Moore
Patsy Moore died of COVID-19 on Aug. 19, 2020.

ANGELA: She loved libraries and she would always make sure that you had a library card, and when my children brought friends home from school, that's what she would ask them: “Do you have your library card? You need a library card.”

JOANNA: We were having some work done on the house, and we needed a security system. And she was living with my sister, but we went over there to get the security installed and she sat right next to her books. She started pulling her books and started talking about ... she missed her books.

And so that was just a brief little thing that we had that really exemplified her enthusiasm when it came to reading.

JOANNA: In 2019, I had been taking my mom — her brother was diagnosed with cancer — and I had been taking her to North Carolina like maybe every six weeks to see him and visit. Around June [of 2020] I said, "Mom, you know, let me drive you to see Uncle John." And so I did. We got home on July 2. My mom, I think, got exposed on the first day that we got home. Everything was normal, and throughout that Fourth of July weekend and in the next week, she just started sleeping much longer. She never complained. And I noticed the next day she was sleeping a lot. So I said, "You know, Mom, I want to take you to urgent care." When we got to urgent care, she had pneumonia.

ANGELA: So from there, we took her to the emergency room and they ran a test. She was positive for COVID, but they sent us home. I noticed that her oxygen saturation level was getting a little lower than I thought was safe. So we took her back to the ED Department [at the hospital] and we never saw her again [in person] ... alive.

So we visited with her through FaceTime. And I'll never forget the last thing she said to me was, "Angie, take care of yourself." I just broke down. And to have her pass away without us next to her ... she didn't deserve that at all.

The hardest thing is that with all she gave us and all she tried to expose us to, that we weren't there to see her through one of the hardest things in her, her life.

We're still grieving and we miss her — terribly.

JOANNA: In November, just prior to the Thanksgiving holidays, my cousin, who works for the congresswoman, Frederica Wilson, invited me to speak to the community and cautioned them about gathering for the holiday.

ANGELA: And as it relates to the vaccine, I made the decision the first day that the vaccine was available to frontline workers that I would get the vaccine and with tears in my eyes, because all I could think about was my mom — just came a little bit too late for mom — but we're still here and she would expect us to do better.

So my sister and I, we got the vaccine. We're trying to encourage as many people as we can to get it. Anything you can do to safeguard your family, because it's a devastating loss.

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Verónica Zaragovia was born in Cali, Colombia, and grew up in South Florida. She’s been a lifelong WLRN listener and is proud to cover health care for the station. Verónica has a bachelor’s degree in political science and a master's degree in journalism. For many years, Veronica lived out of a suitcase (or two) in New York City, Tel Aviv, Hong Kong, Las Vegas, D.C., San Antonio and Austin, where she worked as the statehouse and health care reporter with NPR member station KUT.