Friday, December 31, 2004


I have discovered while watching Peggy disappear that....

There is a big difference in being alive and living.

Peggy is still alive but without the living of life.

This is another lesson that Peggy has taught me. It is important to live every day and not just get through the day. It is important to live and not just exist.

So, my New Years Resolution is to make a conscience choice to live and not just be alive.

Thank you, Peggy.

Happy New Year!

Tomorrow will be 2005...A new year to live life to the fullest while it is still mine to live.

I Love You Today, Peggy!

Thank you for another lesson to take into the New Year...2005!

I Miss You!

Mary Louise


Thursday, December 30, 2004




Smile..though your heart is aching.

Smile even though it's breaking.

When there are clouds in the sky..You'll get by.

 If you smile through your fear and sorrow..

Smile and maybe tomorrow..

You'll see the sun come shining through...For You!

Light up your face with gladness.

Hide every trace of Sadness...

All though a Tear may be ever so near...

That's the time you must keep on trying..

SMILE, what's the use of crying..

We'll see that life is still worth while...


We love you today, Peggy!

We miss you're smiling face!

We will all smile for you!

Betty Jean, Barbara, Johnny & MaryLouise

Monday, December 27, 2004



I wonder what it would be like to live in the place called "Just Is" like Peggy does!

I wonder what it would be like to forget Christmas or to forget my life!

 I admit that sometimes it would be nice to forget the pain that I have experienced.  But if I forgot the pain, I would also forget the lessons learned from the pain because everything would be erased. The pain and joy that I have experienced  have been great teachers and are helping me live a fuller life!

Peggy is getting worse and I am aware that one day she will not be able to talk to me. I cannot imagine not hearing Peggy's voice in my life.

I continue to try and wrap my mind around the concept of no past or future.  We are all a combination of our pasts, our present and our futures. Those memories dictate how we live our lives every day.    

Peggy doesn't seem to be scared or afraid at all.   She has no fear of what will become of her as she slides into Alzheimer's Disease  more every day. I am thankful for that and that she is living in a happy place called "Just Is."

Peggy's "Just Is" place is a place where she is content and happy.                               

In her Place.. She is the one who decides who visits with her during the day. There are only invited guests. There are only guests that make her happy.

I am thankful that Peggy's "Just Is" place is a safe and a happy environment as she continues her journey and slowly disappears.

Some times, I would like to knock on the door of her mind and have her invite me inside so I that I could visit and understand what she is feeling..


She Lives in a "JUST IS" place where she has Forgotten...


I Live in a Place Where...


I Love You Today, Peggy

Mary Louise

Thursday, December 23, 2004


What kind of gift do you give someone who doesn't remember who you are or what you meant to one another?

I struggled while thinking of a gift to give to Peggy this Christmas.

She doesn't want or need material things. She doesn't remember what a gift is any longer. She doesn't remember Christmas or me.

So,  after a lot of thought, I decided to give her gifts that are .....Tied with Heart Strings!

I will give her the gift of my laughter.

I will give her the gift of my time.

I will give her the gift of my remembrances.

I will give her the gift of my care.

I will give her the gift of my love.

I will give her the gift of pictures.... from our past as Sister's.

I will give her the gift of my voice every day.

I will give her gifts that cost no money and are not material in any way because Christmas is a time for gifts from the heart.

The best Christmas gifts are always tied with Heart Strings!

I remember when my children were small and they gave me gifts tied with heartstrings!

They had pride and joy on their faces as they presented their gifts to me.

A hand drawn picture.

 A figure molded from clay.

 A hand sewn apron.

A toy Raccoon glued to a wooden spoon. 

I especially loved the wad of masking tape that was covered in sparkles!

My heart sang when I received those gifts from my children's hands on Christmas' long ago.

So now, I must think of gifts to give my Sister, who is a small child again in many ways and needs........


I love you Today, Peggy!

Merry Christmas Eve  2004

Mary Louise

Tuesday, December 21, 2004


One of my favorite books is "The Velveteen Rabbit" by Margery Williams.  

The Velveteen Rabbit is a book about becoming REAL!   

A little boy received a stuffed rabbit for christmas.The rabbit was beautiful, his coat was spotted with brown and white. He had thread whiskers and his ears were lined with pink sateen.

The little boy fell in love with his rabbit. One day, the Rabbit asked the Skin Horse, the oldest toy in the nursery, What is REAL?  

The Skin Horse replied..REAL isn't how you are made!         It is a thing that happens to you. It happens when someone loves you for a long time, not just to play with but really loves you!

Then, said the skin horse, you become Real! 

The rabbit didn't notice, as years went by, that his velveteen fur was getting shabby and his tail had become un sewn or that the pink of his nose had been kissed off, his whiskers had been loved off and the pink sateen of his ears had turned gray.

The boy thought his rabbit was still beautiful. 

His rabbit had become REAL and when you are real...

Shabbiness doesn't matter.

A Loved one is forever real and beautiful.   

Peggy has changed but she is still beautiful to me!            She is my velveteen rabbit!

She is teaching me to be real in my everyday life.

It is difficult to be real while I watch Peggy disappear but her disappearance is helping me to emerge.    

I Love You Today, Peggy.   

Merry Christmas 2004    

Mary Louise



Monday, December 20, 2004


My Mother had five children.

I was the first to move far away from Alabama and home. I'll never forget my first Thanksgiving away from home and family.

Later, Mother told me that there were 5 parts to her heart and a part of her heart was missing on that Thanksgiving.

Being young, I thought..Motherrrr, you had everyone else there!

It took age and gained wisdom to know exactly what she meant when she made that statement.

This Christmas, even though I have everyone that I love around me.........

A Part of my Heart is missing.

It is the place where Peggy used to live and bring joy, laughter and crazy, funny presents. Like the "chicken" that we would send to one another in our Sister gifts.                                                           No one knew from year to year who would get "The Ugly Chicken".

I really miss the chicken!            

No one has gotten it in several years and so it must have been a gift to Peggy the last Christmas that she remembered.

The Chicken stopped with Peggy. Just like so many other things stopped when Peggy forgot how to remember.

This is how Alzheimer's disease is especially vicious. The person that is missing in my heart this Christmas is still alive.

Peggy just doesn't remember Christmas....

And she doesn't remember...Me!

I Love You Today, Peggy!

Sending you my Christmas Memories of "The Chicken"...with love!

Mary Louise

Thursday, December 16, 2004


It is always difficult to call Peggy and hear the flat sound of no remembrance.

 It is especially difficult during the Christmas season because I remember so much. I remember all of our Christmas times and cannot give the gift of those memories to her.

If I could give Peggy one gift this Christmas it would be a pair of  velvet shoes. 

She could put the shoes on her feet and hear the crunching of the snow as she walked back to her memories.

The velvet shoes would leave a path of footprints in the snow that could would lead her back home again, back to the place where her memories are waiting for her.

Back to the memories of................

Christmas and back to the memories of love.

I Love You Today, Peggy!

Merry Christmas.

Mary Louise

Friday, December 10, 2004


I have been shopping for Christmas and searching for the perfect gifts for those I love.

 I walked through the stores at the mall and looked at all the wonderful gifts that I could buy. I took my time because these will be special gifts that will be opened on Christmas morning. 

While shopping, I thought about a store that I wish existed in our mall.

It would be called "The Memory Place Store".

I could go in this shop and buy my gifts for Peggy for Christmas.

I could stroll down the isles of the Memory Place Store and buy all of her memories back, wrap them and give them to her this Christmas morning.

On Christmas morning, under her Christmas tree, there would be colorful boxes, decorated with bows and glitter and signed, Love, Mary Louise.

She could open the boxes one at a time and each would contain a group of the memories that she has forgotten. 

One box would have all the stories of her childhood. Just by opening the box, her childhood memories would flood back into her brain as she sipped the coffee that she loved.

Next, she could open the gift box containing all of the memories of her teen years. She would carefully take them from the box and drape them around her neck and in a flash, all of those memories would be hers again on this special Christmas day.

 Then, she would open the next three boxes. Those boxes would have the memories of her 20's, 30's and 40's wrapped in white tissue paper. She would open the boxes one at a time and have all of those memories drift back into her mind while sitting in the light of her shining, twinkling Christmas tree.

The next gift box would contain the memories of her husband, her marriage and of her children. What joy would shine from her face as she looked at them lying in the box and she could remember all of the times they spent together. She would throw the contents of the box into the air and let the memories rain down on her and bask in the glow of their love and remember each of them once again.

The last gift box would hold the memories of our parents, her sisters and her brother. She would smile and hold the box to her heart and remember the love that we all shared. She could take each memory out and hold it in her hands. She could throw the memories around like balls, bouncing them from the floor to the ceilings while laughing.

Her eyes would be shining and brimming with tears because she could remember her life and the love that was shared at Christmas time and the rest of the year.

On this special Christmas morning...The morning of miracles, Peggy could have a miracle for one day.

For this one special Christmas Day, Peggy would get 7 beautiful boxes containing gifts of the remembrances of her life.

She would open all of "The Memory Place Store" gifts that were carefully wrapped in beautiful paper and colorful bows.

She could unwrap her past and present and remember.

She would have one day to remember what it is like to love and be loved. 

Peggy would know on Christmas day morning that even though her life is disappearing...

My love for her will never disappear! We gave one another the gift of our love for many Christmases.

Just because she cannot remember.... doesn't mean that I will forget!

Life may end but Love doesn't!

Merry Christmas, Peggy!

I Love You Today!

Mary Louise

Tuesday, December 7, 2004


I miss Peggy so much at this time of year.

She loved everything about this season.

I was feeling sorry for myself while out shopping for gifts today.

I found a present that was meant for Peggy. I picked it up and for a flash of a second I thought, I will get this for Peggy.

Then reality covered me and I put the gift back with tears in my eyes.

 I was feeling sad that Peggy will never celebrate Christmas again.    I was sad because she doesn't even know what Christmas is, what gifts are or why we celebrate this season.

I was sad because she will miss the joy of this season...

Then, it dawned on me that my sadness was just for me! 

Peggy doesn't remember anything about Christmas or the season so.....

 How can she miss it?

Peggy doesn't remember or miss this season....But

I remember....  I can remember all of the Christmases, all of the joy, all of the gifts and all of the fun during the December's in our past.

Memories of  Christmas are a great gift and they warm my thoughts and make me smile.

Peggy doesn't remember Christmas or have any memories of her past as she disappears from Alzheimer's...

So Maybe,  just maybe...this is a gift from Alzheimer's disease.

 Peggy can't be sad and miss Christmas when she doesn't remember it and what it was to us...............

She doesn't remember Mother and Daddy and how much they loved Christmas. She doesn't remember the 24th of December at 1805 St. Charles Court. She doesn't remember the night gowns we all wore every Christmas Eve.

Peggy doesn't remember what she is missing this Christmas season. I have to remind myself of that fact.

I have to remind myself that my sadness during this season belongs to me and not to her.

I am so thankful that she is not sad about missing Christmas again this year.

Peggy can't be sad over a season that.....

She doesn't remember.

I Love You Today, Peggy!

Merry Christmas 2004!

Mary Louise


Monday, December 6, 2004


I talked with Peggy's sitter this morning. She said that she could not get Peggy to talk or respond in any way. It seems that Peggy has retreated into the silence of her mind and wants to stay there.

 She also said that Peggy has not eaten and will not drink anything.

My heart did a crunch and I wanted to run through the phone lines and be there for her. I wanted to put my arms around her and tell her that everything would be  O. K. just like when we were children.

I held the phone and waited. I was bracing my heart for the sitter to  say that Peggy would not talk with me.

The sitter said; Peggy, this is your sister, Mary Louise. Would you like to talk with her?  I heard a long silence that was deafening.

I squeezed the phone in my hand and said to myself...come on Peggy, take the phone, take the phone. Then, I heard her familiar voice say, hello. I said; Hey Peggy, this is Mary Louise, your sister.

I chatted for a while and then said, Peggy, you know that I love you, don't you? Yes, she answered.

Will you eat some food and drink some water when we get off the phone? Yes.                      

Do you promise me that? Yes.

I said, Peggy, I love you today. I hope you know that I do.

I do can think that, she said. She still tries so hard to talk with me.

She had made the effort to take the phone when she heard my name and that told me that somewhere inside of her soul, she still remembers me and remembers that I love her.

I never know if this phone call will be the last time that I will hear her voice.

She is fading away a little more with every call.

Peggy is disappearing and there is nothing that I can do about it. All that I can do is call her and tell her that I love her today. That just doesn't seem like enough as she fades away.

I want to do more to save her. I want to stop the thief called Alzheimer's disease from taking my sister away. I want to protect her but I cannot.

I would like to look the bully Alzheimer's in the face just like I used to do when I saw some big kid bothering Peggy.  I would be shaking on the inside when I confronted the bully but would find the courage. I found the courage because I loved my sister and wanted to protect her. I would get the most serious, determined look on my face and I would squint my eyes, like I saw in the movies and dared anyone to hurt my sister, Peggy.

This stand off worked when we were kids but it is not working with Alzheimer's disease.

Alzheimer's is the biggest bully on the block and no one can stop it from taking Peggy away. 

Not even me.... Not even when I use my most serious, determined, squinty eyed, stare down face.

Peggy, I'm so sorry that I cannot protect you from the Alzheimer's Bully but I will stay close to you and be there as you continue to disappear.

The progression of Alzheimer's disease in a brain.

I Love You Today, Peggy!

Mary Louise

Thursday, December 2, 2004


I saw a puppet show when I was a child. I didn't enjoy it even at a young age because I didn't like seeing the person standing above the small stage pulling the strings of the puppets.

The puppeteer would make the puppets dance and move, sing and jump.  I couldn't take my eyes off of the man who was pulling the strings attached to the hands and feet of the puppets.

I felt sorry for the puppets because they couldn't do anything on their own...they had to have the man pulling their strings to make them come alive.

 I would watch the puppets talk but my eyes would wander back to the man who was pulling their strings.  I watched as his mouth said the same words that the puppets did. He was in total control of their movements and whatever they did on the small stage.

He was the one who controlled the life of the puppets. They had no life of their own unless he was pulling their strings.

I think that having Alzheimer's disease would be like having a puppeteer standing above you, pulling your life strings and being in total control of your daily life show.

This has become clear to me as I talk to Peggy each day.

On Monday and Tuesday her voice was flat and lacked any emotion. She answered my chatter with emotionless one word answers.

Yesterday, she was happy and laughing when I called her.

I wonder what happens in her brain when she has the highs and lows of Alzheimer's disease?

Then, I thought about the puppeteer, the one who is pulling the strings in the stage production of her life.

The faceless puppeteer called......Alzheimer's Disease!

Alzheimer's stands above Peggy's life stage and pulls the strings that are attached to her arms, legs and brain.  Alzheimer's decides if Peggy will be happy or sad, laughing or flat.

It towers above her and pulls the strings attached to her mind. I hear a different performance ever day as we talk on the phone.

The Alzheimer's puppet show will continue in Peggy's life until she  finally breaks the strings and slips into peace. A peace where a puppeteer is not in control any longer.  

I think that it would be tiring to have something control and dictate emotions and feelings each day but I think this being free of Alzheimer's disease. 

Maybe, to Peggy....

It is a relief to have a puppeteer in control because her mind is devoid of feelings and her thoughts are scattered.

Maybe, it is a relief for her to have someone else pull her life strings and tell her how to react during the day.

Maybe, at this stage of the disease it is a comfort to Peggy to know that there is someone else in control and she can rest.

Peggy was happy this morning and had no stress in her voice. She had no idea who I was but her voice had a calm quality and she was at peace.

After I hung up the phone, I could see in my mind's eye....

The Faceless puppeteer.......... called Alzheimer's disease.

The puppeteer who continues to pull the strings of Peggy's mind.

The puppeteer who is in total control of her daily life show.

I miss the Peggy that I grew up with and the woman who was my friend.

I miss our talks and our laughter. I miss having my forever friend.

But, I am glad that she has good care and someone to make sure that her life show plays out smoothly.

I'm not sure how I will react when the curtain goes down on Peggy's life show and the puppeteer cuts the strings and sets her free.

I do know that I am thankful that I have had the privilege to play a small part in the life show called....Peggy.

I Love You Today, Peggy!

Mary Louise

Tuesday, November 30, 2004


I have recieved word from a faithful reader that when she tried to leave a comment...She got this message.

"The Owner of his Journal has chosen to prevent you from making comments." 

I have no idea why ANYONE would get this message when trying to leave a comment! I have Never blocked a screen name.

Leaving a comment on my journal helps me more than anyone could know and to think that anyone is blocked has upset me.

If you have tried to leave me a comment and have gotten this computer error message...I apologize.

To Flo....I am so sorry that you got the error message. I cherish your comments and hope you will continue to read and leave a comment. Thank you, Flo for bringing this to my attention!

I will attempt to contact the journals and find the answer to this problem.


Mary Louise

Monday, November 29, 2004


Tears...While Peggy continues to disappear.

I wonder what it would feel like to have no emotion or to have no tears to Peggy.

Crying is a purification of the mind and body. It is a necessary part of living. We cry tears of happiness and joy and tears of deep sorrow.

We cry and cleanse our souls of built up, stuffed in, damned up feelings.

I have cried many tears as I watch Peggy disappear from my life.

There are days when the tears fall freely.... without my permission.

There are days when I try to hold the tears inside and yet they creep to my eyelids, pool there and wait to slide down my face.

There are days when I get in the shower, turn the shower head on my face and let my tears mingled with the water and run down the drain.

I cry tears in a card store, reading cards and I am moved by the words that I am reading.

There are times when I would like to run in a field and scream all the tears of my life with abandon.  

Tears can slide slowly from my eyes or in a great river.

I have realized since Peggy began to disappear from my life that I am not just crying the tears of losing her.

Her illness has given me the permission to cry. A permission that I had denied myself from a very early age.

When my Mother would switch my legs for some wrong doing, I would stand there and will myself to not cry. I would repeat to myself, I will not cry, I will not cry.

I had always taken great pride in saying that I was not a crier.          I had denied myself the right to cry for many years. I had saved most of the tears of pain and loss suffered in my life. I saved all of them inside of my soul behind the massive damn that I had built.

The pain that I am feeling over losing Peggy has opened the damn of the saved tears of my life and because of her....

I am able to cry.............. All the tears of my life!

It has been a purification of my soul and a cleaning of my heart. It has been a release of the painful tears stored behind a damn for so many years.

Now, I am crying all the tears of my life while I continue to.......

Watch my Sister...Disappear.

Thank you, Peggy for giving me the permission to cry.

Your illness has set my tears free and is cleansing my heart and my soul.

You continue to teach me how to live by your dying and I thank you. I thank you for all the lessons that I am learning while I continue to watch as you disappear from my life.

I Love You Today, Peggy!

Mary Louise

Saturday, November 27, 2004


Thanksgiving is a time for family.

Peggy and I shared many memories of Thanksgivings when we were growing up. She has forgotten about those special times but I have not.

 We still called each other on Thanksgiving day even after we married and moved far away from one another. The call always ended with laughter over some little something.

This Thanksgiving, I called Peggy and I was thankful that I can still hear her voice. There was no laughter when our call ended.....

 There was only Thanksgiving silence.

Peggy's memories and voice have been silenced by Alzheimer's disease and she can no longer put her emotions into words.

She can no longer put a voice to her memories or to her feelings.

I guess it could have been a sad thing for me but I was not sad when I hung up the phone.

I was just thankful that she is still on the other end of the phone line.

I was just thankful that I can still hear her voice.

I am thankful this year for the Thanksgiving silence of Peggy because she is still with us in body if not in mind.

I am thankful for the sister she was to me while I continue to watch her disappear from my life.

My heart is full of the many joyful Thanksgivings day's that we shared as sisters. My heart is happy when I think of all the Thanksgiving phone calls and all the chatter and laughter we shared during those calls.

 Peggy could not articulate her feelings this Thanksgiving but her silence was comforting and that silence spoke volumes to me.

 She was still on the other end of my phone line and I am thankful for that and for her silence..

Sometimes, words are not necessary.

Sometimes, I just need to know that my voice is being heard even though she cannot speak to me. 

Peggy may not have remembered who I was when I called her but somewhere in her soul, she remembers my voice and she remembers the laughter that we shared.

Sometimes, it feels O K to sit in the silence of Peggy and feel the comfort of home in her quietness.

Happy Thanksgiving, Peggy.

You were still with us this Thanksgiving and for that, I am thankful.

 Peggy, thank you for the gift of your Thanksgiving Silence during our call.

I know that next year...I may not be this lucky.

Next Thanksgiving, I may not be able to call Peggy.

Next Thanksgiving, I may not be able to listen with my heart to her Thanksgiving Silence.

So this Thanksgiving call was truly special because.....

I was privileged to hear the gift of Peggy's Thanksgiving Silence one more time.

I Love You, Today, Peggy!

Happy Thanksgiving 2004.

Mary Louise

Thursday, November 25, 2004


Happy Thanksgiving


A Message from





Tuesday, November 23, 2004


I was gone last week and I didn't call Peggy during my time away but I thought of her every day. I started to call so many times but felt that I needed a break. I felt guilty about not calling....

On the plane ride home, I wondered if Peggy missed my calls. I knew in my heart that she didn't but still held on to the hope. She had no idea who I was when I called yesterday. I asked her if she was excited about Thanksgiving and she said, yes. I finished the call by telling her that I loved her today and would call her tomorrow.

I remember so many wonderful Thanksgivings at 1805 St. Charles Court when we were growing up. I can still smell the smells of home on Thanksgiving morning. It was a big deal to watch the Macy's Parade as we set the table for a 3:00pm dinner.

Peggy and I always got so excited when Santa came in at the end of the parade. It meant that the Christmas season had begun in our house.

It is still that way to me today. I see Santa at the close of the parade and still get that old, childhood thrill.

I am thankful that Peggy is still with us this Thanksgiving, if only in body.

Peggy's illness has tipped the scale of my daily living from one end to the other. I have thought a lot about what is important and what is not.

I used to spend hours cleaning my house and fussing about small things that had to be done. I wanted everything just so and worked for hours to make it happen.

Now, I know that dust on tables and the floor is not the end of the world. I know that having everything just so... is not where I want to spend my time.

Peggy's slow disappearance has taught me about the important things in my life.

The people are most important...not the things.

I used to get so concerned about the house being perfect that I would forget the feelings of the people around me. I would make everyone miserable with my idea of perfection.

Now, I am more relaxed, much more aware that people and not a perfect house is what is most important.

Peggy continues to teach me by having Alzheimer's disease. She continues to teach me as she disappears from my life.

The whole balance of life has been turned upside down. I am now in a struggle to find a good balance in my life.

I went from perfection in my house to letting everything go so that I could write.

Now, I am struggling to find a balance between what is important and what is not.

Do I want to be remembered for a perfect house and perfect meals and perfect appearance...

Or do I want to be remembered as a relaxed, welcoming spirit?

I am desperately trying to find my way in my search for balance in my everyday living.

I went from one end of the spectrum to the other. It is as if Alzheimer's put weights in the balance of my daily living and tipped the scales too far... the other way.

I am still trying to understand what is important and what is not important to do every day.

It is interesting how watching my sister disappear has made me look at the life that I was living. It has made me look at the stress that I was living

I am not sure how to accomplish living in the middle and keeping the balance in my life.

I was not even aware of how much I had gone to the other side of the spectrum until last night when my husband and I talked.

Now, I will try to crawl back to the middle of life and attain some balance as I continue to watch Peggy disappear.

I Love You Today, Peggy!

Thank you for teaching me.... By losing you.

I will find the needed balance....If not day soon.

Mary Louise

Sunday, November 14, 2004


This will be my last entry until next week. I am going on a trip and will write when I return.


When I think of Peggy now, I do not see her the way that she looks now. I see Peggy the way that she was. She always had a huge smile, green eyes shining with compassion and a laugh that would fill up a room.

It is interesting how our minds work. When the word cat is spoken, we do not think of the letters...C A T...we see a picture of a cat in our mind.

Now, when I think of the word, Alzheimer's disease...I see Peggy in my mind and not the spelled word, Alzheimer's.

When I think of Peggy, a video of memories run through my thoughts like a movie.

I see her well and happy, laughing and excited about life. I don't see the person who has changed because Alzheimer's has taken over her body.

Our mind protects us from things that are too hurtful and fearful to see over and over again when we think. So, I go to the positive pictures that I have stored in my memory bank.

That is where I go when I remember all that we have shared.

One year we went shopping for Christmas. We came home, arms loaded with bags of gifts.

That was the year that we gave each other the same sister coffee cup. She would always ask me if I was drinking coffee from our cup if she called in the morning. It became a big joke between us because we chose the same cup out of all the cups in all of the stores we visited that day.

I still will not drink coffee out of any cup but that one every morning.

I always smile when I read the words printed on the cup before I take that first sip of coffee.

The words on the cup say....

My Sister...My Friend:

Life made you my sister but you're more than that.

You're my forever friend because of the beauty inside of you.

No one will ever understand me and stand by me quite the way that you do.

How much more I appreciate you now than when we were kids!

I am trying to live the words on the cup that she chose for me that Christmas.

When the coffee is half way down in my cup...I think...Is my cup half empty or half full this morning?

I am trying to understand her and stand by her while she continues to disappear from my life.

I will always cherish my coffee cup and I think of Peggy every morning when I drink my coffee.

I just wish that she remembered all the jokes and fun we had that Christmas over those silly, wonderful coffee cups.

I Love You Today, Peggy!

Mary Louise

Thursday, November 11, 2004


 My talk with Peggy this morning was different.

The sitter told her that it was her sister, Mary Louise on the phone.

When Peggy took the phone, I noticed a sadness in her voice.

I told her who I was and asked how she was doing today.

She said, good.

Peggy, I said, you don't sound like you are good. You sound sad. Are you sad today?

Yes, she said. I am sad.

Will you tell me why you are sad? I really want to know.

Yes, was her reply. But then the silence. I waited through it and finally said,

Peggy, talk to me about the sad that you are feeling this morning.

Then she paused for a long time trying to find the words. Then she said, Sheree and the babies are here. Brooke and the babies are here. I don't like to go to church today.

It sounds like a lot is going on at your house. Can you tell me more about being sad?

She was trying so hard to put sentences together but could only say single words that did not go together. After she finish the jumbled sentences I said to her....

You do have a lot to deal with today, Peggy.

Can I help you with anything?

Her answer made me feel good and sad at the same time.

She said, no, I'm good because Mary Louise is here with me and she makes me good.

I said, Mary Louise must love you a lot, Peggy.

She sure does, was her reply.

She stays with me and makes me smile.

I'm glad that she is there with you.

Me too!

Mary Louise really loves you, Peggy!

I know she does cause she makes me laugh when I feel sad.

Tell Mary Louise hello for me, O K?

O. K. I will.

Peggy,  make sure and smile for Mary Louise today because that will make her very happy.

I know it does. I will.

 Good. I love you, Peggy.

I Love you too, Baby.

My sadness over this conversation is that she didn't know that she was talking with Mary Louise.

The happy part of my talk with Peggy this morning is that she feels that I am with her and that I can still make her smile.

Her voice sounded better when we hung up the phone. There is some comfort knowing that Peggy feels that I am close to her and that I love her. Some where in her mind...she still remembers love. Somewhere in her mind... she still remembers me.

It is a gray, rainy day here...outside and in my heart but.....

I am smiling because Mary Louise is with Peggy on this day in her life. She is with her and she remembers how much I love her. Somewhere in her mind she remembers all the smiles that we have shared. Somewhere in her mind, Peggy and I are still sharing all the smiles of our lives..

That is a special gift from Peggy on this gray, rainy day in Ohio.

I Love You Today, Peggy!  and......

I am smiling too!

Mary Louise



Tuesday, November 9, 2004


You have an interesting take on this old issue. 

 I'm sure it does feel like Peggy's going down with the ship so to speak.  She laughs and seems on the surface to be whole and full of life but you know it's just a matter of time until the ship will go down for the final time. 

 I understand this metaphor as it applies to Peggy but what does it say to you. 

What happens to you when the ship goes down?  I love you.  JEH

Dearest John,                                                                                                   

When the ship finally goes down, I will let go of the ships railing and of Peggy and swim to a life boat.

When I am safely in the boat, I will watch the sea where Peggy slipped under the water and cry all the tears of my life.

  Then, I will turn my face towards the shore and wait to be  rescued.  

My faith in God and my love for you will be my life preserver when Peggy finally slips under the surface of the water.    

I will always look to the sea and remember the place where Peggy lost her fight and drowned ...   

I will carry a sadness in the empty space where she had lived in my life. But there will also be smiles and joy for the closeness we shared while we floated on the sea of our sisterhood!  

 The days that Peggy and I shared growing up and the fun we had together as adults will be my music and the band will play on in my life after she is gone.....  

 I would never let Peggy slipping under the water of Alzheimer's disease drown me as well.  

My life will still hear the music and I will still love the sea after Peggy is gone.    

I will always hear the music of our lives as Sisters....  

AND I Will....    

Dance the dance of life in Her Honor........  

And the Band Will Play On~~~~~  

 I Love You, John!  

I Love You Today, Peggy!  

Mary Louise

Monday, November 8, 2004


This morning when I talked with Peggy, I decided not to fill in the empty spaces in our conversation.

I wanted to see if I was rushing to words so quickly that I was not giving her enough time to respond.

This was our phone time this morning.....

Hi Peggy, this is Mary Louise.

Hi and then there was...silence....the dreaded silence.

This is the place where I get uncomfortable and start chattering away.

This morning, I just let the silence fill the minutes.

How are you today?

Good and then silence...

Peggy, do you know who this is?

Yes, and more silence.

Who am I, Peggy?

 When I ask her this question, I get very nervous.                    There is a place within me that still hopes that she will say my name. If she doesn't answer right away, I usually start the nervous chatter.

This morning, I just listened to the silence.

After a minute that seemed like hours, she said, Ummm. Trying to come up with a name.

I usually jump in at this point and say, it's Mary Louise Peggy, your sister.

But I resisted and held the phone and listened to the silence and tried to rest in it's quiet.

Not helping Peggy goes against everything that I am as her sister but today.

 I needed to listen...

I needed to listen to the silence and try to feel comfortable in it's power.

It's not what a person says that is most important, it is what they do. Peggy held the phone to her ear in the silences and didn't hang up.

I knew that she was on the other end of the line and I am learning to accept that she does not have the words to express her feelings any longer.

Today, I did not fill the silences for my sister.

I just listened and didn't try to change the silence for either of us.

I thought back to the times when we were young girls and talking wasn't allowed. We would still communicate with our "Love You Mean it" sign... using our fingers to make the square.

 I knew that Peggy held the phone to her ear and heard my voice. I knew that even though she could not remember my name....

That there is still a special bond........


The Power of the Silence between us.  

     I'm making our " Love You...Mean It" sign in silence...knowing that Peggy and I never needed words to communicate our love as sisters.

I Love You Today and Mean It, Peggy!

Mary Louise


Friday, November 5, 2004


Peggy was happy this morning. Her voice had a lilt to it and she was laughing. It was as if she had a private joke that she couldn't share with me.

Even though I told her my name and that I was her sister...she had no idea who I was and that creates an empty place inside of me.

I asked her what was making her so happy today and she said that it was a good hair day.

It feels good to hear her familiar voice and it feels sad to know that she thinks that she is talking with a stranger.

Sometimes, she sounds so normal that I want to scream at her and say...Stop this act, Peggy! It's not funny!

I know that it is not an act and that she can't help what Alzheimer's has done to her mind. It is just so frustrating to hear her sound so happy when I am in such pain.

Sometimes, after a call like today, I get angry and vow that I will not call again and feel so completely shut out. I lecture myself and decide that I will not keep making these calls to Peggy.

Then, I remind myself that I am the healthy one here and need to quit feeling so sorry for myself. I just miss her so much and it hurts to my bones to realize that she does not think of me or miss me the way that I do her.

My feelings today are like the old saying "stuck between a rock and a hard place."

Why do I find myself in this place today when Peggy was so happy?

I think it is because we cannot share our happy any longer.       There is no "two way street" in our relationship. The relationship is very one-sided and I have to carry the burden of being forgotten while she laughs. It is a laughter that can no longer be shared because I have nothing to laugh about.

It is difficult for my healthy mind to comprehend that Peggy has forgotten who we were.

I am sad and angry because I have lost my sister, my forever friend.

There is not a single thing that I can do but watch her disappear a little more every day.

It feels like I am standing on the deck of The Titanic. The ship is sinking, the music is playing, all the life boats have been filled and are in the distance.

Here I stand, hanging on to Peggy and the railing of the huge ship as it continues to sink...

 Here I stand, waiting for the cold water of Alzheimer's to wash Peggy down into the sea.

Here I stand.......

While The Band Plays On......

I Love You Today, Peggy!

Mary Louise



Thursday, November 4, 2004

Sitting on the Dung Pile

Today...There are no words to express how I am feeling about losing Peggy. The words are inside of me but cannot find their way to the page.

This entry was written eariler this year and is worthy of a repeat because it describes my mood today.

Watching Peggy disappear from Alzheimer's disease is like sitting in the middle of a huge dung pile. 

The stench is over powering and the dung clings to my body.

 I know that I should get up and wash the dung off but when I try to stand up...the dung pulls me down again like quicksand.

So, on a day like today...I Just Sit in It!

I sit in it because Peggy has forgotten me!  And because....

I Can't Remember..... to Forget!

I miss you, Peggy.... More than you can remember!

I Love You Today, Peggy!

Mary Louise

Tuesday, November 2, 2004



What a privilege!

I was very proud to go and stand in a long line to cast my vote this morning.

I have never witnessed such a large turnout at the voting place. It made me feel good and I know that who ever wins...

It will be the word of the people..

Peggy can no longer go to the voting place and make her choice known by voting.

I was thinking about that as I stood in line.

So, everyone who can and is healthy enough...


It is a right and the privilege of being a United States citizen.

Peggy can never vote again but ...

You Can!

I Love You Today, Peggy!

Mary Louise

Monday, November 1, 2004


Today, I look out of my window and see a cool, rainy day with gray skies. The trees are almost bare and it looks very lonesome.

I remind myself that above those gray clouds, the sky is blue and the sun is shining..... I just can't see it from my vantage point.           I must trust that it is there and that I will see the sunshine again.

The Peggy that I now know is dark and gray with no blue skies.  The leaves on the tree of her mind have fallen to the ground.       The sunshine no longer glows from her green eyes.

What I struggle to keep in mind is that the sun that was Peggy is still shining... I just can't see it from my vantage point!                  

 I trust that it is still there and that I will see it again someday.

I am like the weather looking out of the window of my soul.  Cloudy and gray today with very little sunshine in my heart.

Though this day is gray, I know that it needs to be lived and appreciated for its unique beauty.

I have to live and understand what the gray part of life feels like or how could I learn to appreciate the sunshine in my life?               I know that if there is sunshine..there are also shadows.

Peggy brought a lot of sunshine to my life and now, I must remind myself that she is still shining......and I am standing in the shadow of her sunshine.

Shine on....Peggy~~~~I know that the sparkle that made you who you were is still in there somewhere and shining brightly........

I just can't see your shine from my vantage point... in the shadows!

I Love You Today, Peggy!

Mary Louise

Friday, October 29, 2004


There is something comforting about hands.

 One summer day when I was 7 years old, I had been watching my Daddy work on a car in the back yard. He had been working on the car all morning. I had been handing him tools when he asked for them. It seemed to make him proud that I was interested in what he was doing and it felt good to be close to him and to help him work.

I went inside and was sitting at the kitchen table eating a cheese sandwich when he came into the kitchen.

As he walked pass me, I could smell the gasoline and grease from his clothes. He walked to the kitchen sink and began washing his arms and hands. When he finished "washing up" as he called it, he wiped his big hands dry, he came over to the table.

 His hands were rough from all of the work that he did and there were always traces of grease left on his hands that would never come off.

Instead of sitting down, he came over to me. I looked up at him and he took my face in his hands. He held my face, looked at me and smiled but never said a word. Then, he went to his chair and sat down to eat.

I will always cherish the memory of Daddy's hands on my face. Those big, rough hands that smelled of gasoline and grease told me that I was loved just by their touch. No words were needed  then or today.

Now, when I get a faint smell of gasoline or grease, I travel back to that day and can still feel the loving touch of Daddy's hands on my face.

I saw an ordination service once called "The laying on of Hands." It was a beautiful service where older, more experienced Ministers laid their hands on the head of a new minister. It looked to me like the older Ministers were transferring their years of wisdom to the head of the young minister who was just starting his or her ministry. It was a beautiful thing to witness.

Hands come in all sizes and are very interesting to me.

I remember how big my husbands hands looked when our new babies touched his fingers with their tiny fingers.

The hands are important part of our bodies. We lend a hand, join hands, walk hand in hand,get out of hand, wash our hands and can have a heavy hand.

The touch of a hand can bring calm or cause fear.

The touch of a hand can ease pain and promote healing or do damage.

When I saw Peggy this summer, the first thing that I did was go to chair where she was sitting, kneel in front of her and hold her face in my hands. My healthy hands felt big on her ailing face. She seemed to rest her head in my touch and find a moment of comfort there. It  was a moment that I will never forget.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if I had the power to heal with my hands. If I had that power, I would place both of my hands on Peggy's face and bring her health and memories back by the simple act of the laying on of my hands.

One day, Peggy will be touched by a hand that will make her whole again. I am certain about that....

Spencer Michael Free wrote these words long ago...

'Tis the human touch in this world that counts, The touch of your hand in mine.

Which means far more to the fainting heart than shelter, bread and wine;

For shelter is gone when the night is o'er and bread lasts only a day,


The touch of the hand and the sound of the voice......

Sing on in the soul always.

I Love You Today, Peggy!

Mary Louise


Thursday, October 28, 2004


My sister, Barbara sent a card to me the other day and I wanted to share it with all of you.

The Ross sisters have hurt as we watch our youngest sister, Peggy disappear from our lives.

We know the importance of staying close,  but now, it takes on a profound meaning. It means forgetting old differences and remembering to let one other know how much they are loved.

We never know how much time we have to stop and say...I Love You, Today!

Here is the Donna Worthington Wall that Barbara sent to me....


The inside of the card reads.....

You and I have shared so much~~sweet memories we left behind

like listening to the radio and hairstyles to try.

We loved for the phone to ring~ we'd race to see who it was.....

hoping as we raced that it was for one of us.

We were going to see the world~ travel far away~

We didn't realize then...that this was the most beautiful place.

God has given us more blessings than we could ever measure....

and loving you all these years is my heart's treasure.

With much love,


This card, at this place and time in my life was like a life line being thrown to me.

A life line to let me know how much my sister loves and thinks about me.

We all need life lines from one another as we continue to watch our sister, Peggy....Disappear!

Thank you Barbara! Thank you so much!

I Love You Today! Barbara

Your grateful sister.....

Mary Louise


Wednesday, October 27, 2004


It is strange to see the winding road of Alzheimer's disease.

There are twists, sharp turns and uneven road.

I feel like I am driving down a dangerous road in a tiny, unsafe car. There are steep cliffs to my right with no guard rails to protect me. There are high mountains to my left which could send a boulder down and crush my car with me inside.

I am never sure if I should speed up or slow down when I try to communicate with Peggy while driving this road.

Every day and every call to her is different.

The only thing that never changes on this twisting road is........

Peggy doesn't remember who I am or that we are sisters.

So, I will continue to drive on this stretch of road until the road is no more and I have to stop my car and get out.

When that happens, I will look back and see the road that I have traveled with Peggy.  I will be a better driver in my life because of this journey with my sister. A better person as I watch a cherished part of my history continue to disappear from my life.

I Love You, Peggy and........

I Will Remember You...

 by Sarah McLachlan   (Liberties Taken)

I will remember you. Will you remember me?

 Don't let your life pass you by..Weep Not for the memories.

Remember the Good Times that we had!

I let them slip away from me when things got bad. 

Clearly, I first saw you smiling in the sun.  I want to feel your warmth around me.  I want to be the one!

I'm so Tired but I can't sleep. Standing on the edge of Something Much too Deep!

Funny, how we Feel so much but Cannot say a Word.

Though we are Screaming inside.........We can't be Heard!

I Will Remember You! Will you remember me?

Don't let your life pass you by..Weep Not For the Memories!

So afraid to Love You...More afraid to lose..

We are Clinging to a Past that doesn't let us choose!

Where once there was darkness, a deep and endless night.

You gave us everything you had.......AHHH... Peggy,

You gave me light!


I will Remember You!

Will You Remember me?

Don't let your Life pass you by.

I will weep NOT for all our Memories!!!

I Love You, Today, Peggy!

Mary Louise

Monday, October 25, 2004


Peggy and I always loved to tap dance.  We would tape pennies to our shoes and tap away on the sidewalk in front of our house. Those are some of the memories of Peggy that make me smile.

But, have you ever heard the phrase, "I'm dancing as fast as I can?"

That is the way that I felt when I finished my call to Peggy this morning.

 My heart was tired from dancing when I hung up the phone. 

I had to dance around her silences, dance around her struggle for words, dance with my sparklers lit while talking and pretending that everything was normal.

If love and dancing were enough, I could love and dance Peggy well. 

If love and dancing were enough, I would dance with her forever.

Sometimes, Love is not enough! 

Sometimes, I can't dance fast enough!

Sometimes, the sparklers get wet and go out as I continue to tap away.

No matter how fast I dance, I cannot stop the cloud of Alzheimer's from gathering around Peggy's head.  

No Matter how fast I dance, I cannot stop Alzheimer's from drenching her with a cold rain.                

 I search my mind for something, anything that will make it easier for Peggy and for me to dance through this storm.

All that I can think to do is...

Grab my umbrella of memories and cover our heads to protect us while we dance.

While we continue to dance this dance of Peggy's disappearance........

 I promise you, Peggy that I will continue to dance with you even as you forget how to dance. 

There is no way to stop Alzheimer's disease so...

We will just dance together under the umbrella of my memories.      I will try to keep you dry and make sure our sparklers stay lit!

We will dance and I will remember.........

Two little girls with pennies taped to their shoes.


Mary Louise

Friday, October 22, 2004


Peggy's voice sounded strong this morning and she was laughing as she answered my questions.

How are you today?


What are you doing right now?

I don't know.

Do you know who this is?


This is Mary Louise..Your Sister and I love you so today, Peggy.


It is interesting how little things are being erased from her mind. She has forgotten how to hang up the phone. When I say good-bye to her, she doesn't know what to do.

This morning, after I talked with her, I said...bye Peggy.

She said...O K.

I am going to hang up the phone now and you can too.


Bye Peggy.


O K, I'll count to three and we will both hang up the phone at the same time.

Laughing she said; All-right.

O. K. Peggy...1,2,3. hang up.


Tears pooled in my eyes when I heard her say thanks.

Peggy, just lay the phone down, O K?


This goes on for a while until I get up the courage to close my cell phone and disconnect.

I always tear up when I have to do this because I feel like I am closing my link to her.

The Peggy that I knew is Not on the other end of the phone line... but the voice that I knew Is....

That feels strange in many ways.

 In all of our years of talking on the phone, we have never hung up on one another.  Having to hang up the phone while she is still on the line is a new grief that I face when I call her.

I have to decide when to disconnect and hang up my phone.           I do this knowing that she is still on the line and just doesn't remember what to do. I am never sure if I am doing the right thing when I disconnect and hang up on her. 

After 5 or 10  minutes of saying good-bye and please hang up the phone Peggy,  I slowly close my cell phone. 

 I think that if I hang up the phone slowly and hold it to my heart...she can feel my heart hurting and hear my tears falling as I say good-bye and finally hang up. 

Maybe, she knows somewhere in her being, that it is hard for me to disconnect from her voice.

To slowly disconnect from the only thing that is left of the old Peggy... The only thing that still sounds like home....Peggy's voice.

Daphne Rose Kingma wrote.....

Today, see if you can stretch your heart and expand your love so that it touches not only those to whom you can give it easily...

But also to those who need it so much!

I Love You Today, Peggy! 

Hearing the sound of your voice and your laughter today, helped to touch that place in my soul that is...Home.                                   A safe place where there were no cell phones and no one had to ....slowly say good-bye.

Mary Louise


Wednesday, October 20, 2004


I enjoy putting puzzles together on the cold, gray nights of winter.

I place a card table in the family room and start my puzzle by sorting the pieces. I always do the outside of the puzzle first and slowly fill in the center. When all of the pieces are in place, the puzzle becomes a wonderful picture. After my puzzle is completed, I enjoy the picture for a while and then jumble the puzzle pieces and put them back in their box until I decide to put it together again. 

I think of Peggy's life as a puzzle. When she was born, life started putting the pieces of her puzzle together. One moment and one day at a time, another piece was added to complete Peggy.

When she grew into a woman, all the pieces were in place and the puzzle that was Peggy was complete.

A few years ago, Alzheimer's disease chose a young Peggy and began to remove the all of the puzzle pieces that made her who she was.

It has continued to take pieces from her mind and today, the puzzle that was Peggy is almost completely taken apart.

The pieces of her memory are lying on the floor of her mind......all jumbled up. 

There is no way to fit the pieces of Peggy's puzzle back together because I have tried. I would pick up a puzzle piece that contained a shared memory and try to fit it back into her mind with every phone call to her.

The pieces of her mind and body are so scattered now that no one can fit the pieces of her life back together and make her whole again.

I am reminded of the nursery rhythm about Humpty Dumpty as I watch Peggy disappear.

Peggy Jane was sitting on a wall...

Peggy Jane had a great fall...

And all of her family and all of her friends...

Couldn't put Peggy back together again.

The Peggy that I knew and loved has been taken apart by Alzheimer's disease and put into a box, all jumbled up.

She can only be put back together again when she reaches a place where the Master Puzzle Maker lives.

When Peggy reaches that place, the Master Puzzler will open the box that contains all of the pieces of Peggy. The Master will take the puzzle pieces of Peggy out, sort them and say.. 

I will put Peggy's head together first so that I can see her beautifuleyes and her bright smile. Then, she can tell me all of the memories that her mind has stored and saved for this day.

 When that occurs.....

The Peggy that I knew..... will be whole again.

I Love You Today, Peggy!

Mary Louise




Monday, October 18, 2004




Christopher de Vinck wrote...

Though I have seen the oceans and mountains, though I have read great books and seen great works of art...there is nothing greater or more beautiful than those people I Love.

These people, seated on this bed helped to shape my life. Each in their own way, made me the person that I call myself.

Each in their own way showed me that being Mary Louise was a good thing. 

All of us continue to watch Peggy disappear with disbelief, pain and a feeling of helplessness.


 Our memories of Peggy and of growing up "one of the Ross kids" bring us joy!

I Love You Today, Peggy!

Mary Louise

Friday, October 15, 2004


When my Mother and Daddy died, I felt such a sense of loss.   

 I was a grown woman who felt like an orphan. I was aware that no matter how much I wanted too, I could never go home again.

I could never walk through the front door of 1805 St. Charles Court and yell...I'm Home!!!   I would never see Mother sitting at the kitchen table drinking her coffee or Daddy working in the back yard. 

 I could never lie on the bed in the front bedroom and sleep soundly knowing that I was home and safe. I could never sit down to a meal at the kitchen table and hear all the familiar voices of my childhood.

This is what it feels like to watch Peggy disappear with Alzheimer's Disease.        

The part of my life that was shared with Peggy is over and I can never go home to her again.   

Just like Mother and Daddy...she is no longer there. She is no longer at home.

 The house she has lived in is being emptied.... one piece of furniture at a time.

All I can do is stand in the front yard and watch as all her belongings are loaded onto a truck.                                               All of the furniture that made Peggy who she was is being loaded in a moving van and taken to a destination that I can never visit. 

Every call that I make to her confirms that she is leaving.

As I watch the truck pull away...I can see Peggy leaning out of the truck window. She is waving and smiling. I hear her yelling to me,

Goodbye, M. L.      Be happy for me because.......

I am going Home!!

All I can do is smile at her and wave as she leaves. Tears choke my voice as I whisper...Good-bye to Peggy every day.

 I'll miss you more than You can Remember!

Happy is the person who knows what to remember of the past, what to enjoy in the present, and what to plan for the future.          A. Glason

I Love You Today, Peggy!

Mary Louise

Thursday, October 14, 2004

LESSONS THAT I HAVE LEARNED while Watching Peggy Disappear


My grief over Watching Peggy Disappear has taught me many things.

It is very easy to sit in the anger of losing her and shut off my mind to the fact that there are blessing in my grief.

I now understand that If....

My grief teaches me only blessing will be lost.

If it teaches me nothing but Bitterness... my blessing will be lost.

If it has taught me nothing but blessing will be lost.

If my grief over losing my sister has only taught me blessing will be lost.

If it teaches me nothing but blessings will be lost.

If grief teaches me nothing but blessings will be lost.

Watching Peggy Disappear has taught me to feel...Anger, bitterness, pain, fear, uncertainty and resentment but it has also taught me....

To live in the Moment.

To laugh at the things Peggy says and not cry even when she thinks that I am Jim.

To appreciate and treasure the memories of my life.

To tell the people I love that I love them every day.

Watching Peggy disappear has also taught me...

To control my fear and not let my fear of getting Alzheimer's disease control my life.

I have found new strength in my grief over losing my sister a little at a time. At least, I am given the time to let her go slowly.

I have found the strength.....

To embrace my grief and know that I can live through it.

Peggy's living death has taught me that nothing is forever. That this moment is the day and the time to live. 

I have learned that joy does not come in perfect words and sentences but in the sound of a voice.

Peggy's illness has taught me that...

Memories may be all we have of someone that we love.

I have learned how to hold on to things in my life and how to let go.

I have learned that it isn't important that she remembers me because I can remember her.

I have learned in my grief over watching Peggy disappear to...

Not take anything for granted.

To let go of my anger over small things and manage my anger over big things.

I have learned what a privilege it is to......

Get in my car and drive to the grocery store,runerrands or just walk through the mall alone.

I have learned what a privilege it is to dress myself, to bathe and go to the bathroom alone.

Peggy continues to teach me every day with her courage, her spirit and her struggle to live!

Out of The Prison of Alzheimer's Disease Peggy has reached inside my soul and touched me. She has made me a better, more caring person because of her dying. 

Her disease has made me more aware of other people and their pain. Watching her live through this disease has helped to make me a more tender and open person.

She has helped me to realize the blessing of my everyday life and how special all of my moments are.

She still teaches me through the pain of Watching Her Disappear by the sound of her voice.

I thank you Peggy for everything that you are and everything that you have taught me as you continue to struggle with this disease.

Through the process of your dying...

You have taught me how to live!

I Love You Today, Peggy and I thank you!

Mary Louise


Wednesday, October 13, 2004


I asked Peggy some questions during my visit with her last month.

I wanted to try and understand what she was thinking as Alzheimer's erases memories from her brain.

I asked her what she was thinking at that very moment.

Her reply was.... things.

What kind of things, Peggy? 

I don't know.

 Do you think about sad things or happy things when you are sitting here and thinking?

Sad things, she said.

Can you tell me about the sad things that you think about?

No, she replied.

Do you think about Mother and Daddy?


Do you wonder who the people are that come to visit you?


Why don't you ask the people who they are?

Peggy shrugged her shoulders...

Peggy, when you look in a mirror, who do you see looking back at you?

I don't know her.... she replied.

When you see that person in the mirror, who does she look like to you?

Her reply was...... nobody.

Then, I asked again, what do you see when you look in the mirror Peggy?

Her reply was....Nothing.

Do you remember what a sister is?


Peggy, do you know who I am?


Do you know that I Love you?


Are you scared of anything?


Are you happy?


I am your sister, Peggy and I love you today, very much!

She looked at me and smiled.

There is no way to understand what she was thinking or feeling as I talked with her.

 I do know that when I looked at her that day, I saw my sister.

I saw a sister who is disappearing from Alzheimer's disease but I also saw the little sister that I love very much.

She may look in a mirror and see nothing...but when I looked at her that day, I saw a beautiful person.

I saw the memories of our lifetime together.

I saw Peggy....

My forever friend.

I Love You Today, Peggy!

Mary Louise



Sunday, October 10, 2004


Peggy and I have been playing a game of tug of war with Alzheimer's disease. The disease has been pulling her into disappearance and I have been trying to pull her back.

We have been playing in a contest where two teams pull at opposite ends of a rope, each trying to drag the other across the mud puddle in the center. The teams pull with all their might, digging their heels into the ground. 

This tug of war contest is not a fair battle because Alzheimer's disease is as strong as an elephant.

In my game of tug-of-war...Alzheimer's disease is winning.              I have refused to let go of my end of the rope but I know that Peggy's illness will eventually pull me through the nasty mud of her total disappearance.


Peggy let go of the rope a few months ago. I knew that she had let go when she didn't remember who I was any longer. She held onto the rope as long as she could but one day, Peggy slipped and was drawn face down into the mud puddle in the center of the contest.

There were no screams of defeat from her mouth, she simply let go of the rope.

I continue to pull on my end of the rope.

I refuse to declare Alzheimer's disease the winner of this contest.

Peggy is losing her battle but there are many others who are standing on my side, pulling on the rope with every ounce of strength they posses.

There are the scientist who are searching for a cure and they will never let go of the rope until a cure is found. They search for a cure with a strength of purpose that is cast in bronze.

We will continue this contest of strength and there will be a cure found one day. There will be many Peggy's in the future who will be able to live normal lives, free of Alzheimer's disease.

One day, we will give the rope one last tug...

On that day, this vicious disease will be completely covered in the nasty, brown ooze in the center of the contest. It will lie defeated in the ooze that it creates in the minds of the people it touches.

On that day... a cure for this disease will be announced. The tug of war will be over and we will be declared the winner's of the contest.

It will be too late for Peggy when the cure is found but just in time for millions of other people.

People who will be facing Alzheimer's disease on the other end of a rope..... in the tug of war of their lives.

I Love You Today, Peggy!

Mary Louise

Thursday, October 7, 2004


Dear Peggy,

I am learning that there are many levels of grief.   Today, I talked with you and I didn't tear up or feel bad when I hung up the phone. You were no different today than on most days.  I was the one who was different. I didn't expect to get anything back while we talked nor did I try to get you to remember.

Grief is like standing on a beach and watching the waves roll in and roll out. Some days, there is a storm at sea and the waves come in with such force that they literally knock me over. Today, the waves were small and easy to feel and watch as they slid back into the ocean.  

 When I bring my memories to the shore of the daily calls, I cause the waves to get rough. It is when I expect to get something back from Peggy that I cause my own stormy seas.

Today, I didn't expect to get anything back from her. I just wanted to hear her voice and calm the rough sea in my heart.

I wish that I could learn to be a buoy and never let the waves knock me over again.

But...I know me and I also know that there will still be those calls when I stand on the shore of my remembrances and try to get something back.       

There will be those days when I drop my anchor and try to get her to remember..... When I do that, then I am the one who will cause the stormy sea in my heart.

Peggy is sailing in a beautiful ship, on a sea of glass. She has no fear of rough seas or of the storms that I see in the distance.

 I am the sailor who keeps trying to bring her back to the shore before the storms come. I am the sailor who keeps dropping the anchor instead of being the buoy that rocks on the waves and rides out the storm with her.

I have much to learn about grief and how it is affecting me. I will try and learn to ride the waves as they come.    I will try to realize that my grief is like the ocean and the waves will continue. They will always roll in and they will never stop touching the shore of my heart. 

I will continue to stand facing the ocean and watching the approaching storms. And I know that I can not stop the waves from washing Peggy away, no matter how hard I try.. I will just strive to be her anchor in the storm as I continue to learn how to be a Buoy!

I Love You Today, Peggy!

Mary Louise

Wednesday, October 6, 2004


Have you ever given a baby a bath in a sink?         It never fails that they will put their little hands to the faucet to try and catch the water. They will work and work at the task but the water just flows through their hands.

This is what it feels like as I watch Peggy disappear from my life. Her life is like water running through my hands. I work and work at trying to hold on to her but she continues to slip through my fingers.  It doesn't matter how tight I make my fists, I cannot hold on to her.

Alzheimer's disease has turned her life and memories into liquid and she is going down the drain.

I put a stopper in the drain for a while to try and keep her from going. I called her every day to remind her that I loved her and that we were sisters.

 Now, the drain is open and her life is pouring through the hole in the bottom of the sink and there is nothing that I can do.....nothing but love her as she continues to slip through my fingers and disappear.

This is a vicious disease and I hate it for taking my sister away. I hate the way it has turned her life into liquid. I hate the way it has turned her memories into water. I hate the way I feel as I watch her slide away and I hate this disease.

 But most of all..I hate the knowledge that I can only watch as Peggy runs through my fingers and continues to go down the drain.

I do find comfort in the warmth of her life and all of my Peggy memories as she slides through my hands.

The memories of laughter, secrets and sharing. The comfort of knowing that she was as close as a phone call. 

Today, she continues to slide through my cupped hands and disappear down the dark hole in the bottom of the sink.

Today, she didn't remember me or that we were sisters.

Today, Peggy is closer to completely disappearing down the dark hole in the bottom of the sink.

 The dark hole called....Alzheimer's disease.

I Love You Today, Peggy!

I miss you so much!

Mary Louise





Monday, October 4, 2004


I think that having Alzheimer's disease would be like packing a trunk for storage.

It is a trunk that will be stored in an attic for many years. It is a trunk that will gather dust and can never be opened. It will sit with all of the contents of Peggy's life safely stored away.

Peggy has been packing her Alzheimer's trunk for 6 or 7 years.       It is almost to the top and will not hold many more thoughts from her life.    

She has already packed most of her memories in the trunk.           She has packed the ability to do the every day tasks that we take for granted.

She has forgotten tasks like standing and sitting, personal care, conversation of any kind and sharing her thoughts on a subject.

Alzheimer's disease is standing beside Peggy's trunk. It is smiling as one more memory, one more learned task is folded and put away.

When the trunk is finally full, Alzheimer's will point its crooked finger at Peggy and direct her to also step into the trunk. It will then close the lid, lock and drag her trunk to a lonely attic.

Alzheimer's disease thinks that the Peggy that I knew will be locked away forever in her life trunk.

What Alzheimer's disease doesn't know is that I have a key to Peggy's trunk.

It is the key that can open the trunk and all of the memories of my sister.

It is the key to the trunk where all of my memories of Peggy are stored.

Alzheimer's disease will take Peggy away just as surely as it has taken all of her memories way but......

I HAVE A KEY.....  

I have a key that Alzheimer's disease can never take away.

I will find my way to the attic where Peggy's trunk is stored on days in my future.

I will take my key and open Peggy's trunk and take our shared memories out, one by one.

I will remember her laughter, her tears, her sense of humor. I will remember her joy's, her Love you--Mean it!

I will remember our childhood, our teens, our wedding days and the births of our children.

I will sit in the attic beside Peggy's trunk and see rays of light as they stream through the tiny windows. I will watch as the dust in the attic dances in the air.

I will sit with Peggy's trunk open and with all of our memories spread around me on the floor. I will hold each memory close to my heart

I will sit by Peggys trunk and remember....

I will sit, smile and remember...I will remember....

My Sister, Peggy.

I Love You Today, Peggy!

Mary Louise


Thursday, September 30, 2004


When a family member is dying, the effects of that process reach all of the people who love them. The death of a loved one is like a boulder that is thrown into the middle of a lake.

When the boulder drops below the surface,  the rippling circles of waves start at the drop point and travel to all parts of the lake. The ripples can only stop when the waves reach the shore.

This is what Peggys dying from Alzheimer's disease is doing to our family. The ripples are circling out and touching many lives.

I am not the only person hurting as we all watch Peggy disappear. The whole family is in grief, as are her friends and all of the people her life has touched.

Alzheimer's disease is the lake and Peggy is the boulder that has been dropped into the middle of it. As she sinks below the surface, the ripples from her disappearance are touching all of our lives in different ways.

My husband and I were talking the other evening about Peggy. He had read my journal entry for that day and his comment was, You know, I miss Peggy too!

John became a part of our family when Peggy was in the 9th grade and he has been apart of her life since that time.

I get so caught up in my own grief over losing Peggy that I forget how much others are hurting. They have not made their grief  as public as I have.

So, to my husband, John, to my children, Melissa, Sheri, Ross, Mike, Scott and Mickey, to my sisters, Betty Jean and Barbara, to my brother, Johnny and to all of my cousins, especially Jimmy and to all of my friends. Thank You! 

I send a special love to Ricky, Melodie and Brooke. And to Darlene and Jim...You are all special people who are affected every day as Peggy disappears from your lives. 

I also want to thank Ricky for giving me the permission to write this journal.

Thank you for your support in my effort to explain what it is like for me to watch Peggy disappear a little more every day.

To everyone who reads this journal and offers their support,  Thank You!

Writing this journal has been a labor of love and personal therapy. It is also the most difficult work that I have ever attempted.

I think that Peggy would be proud of me for trying to explain what I think is happening to her as she continues her journey ....

To disappear from all of our lives.     

I Love YouToday, Peggy!

Mary Louise

Wednesday, September 29, 2004


I read these words this morning and tears flooded my eyes.

The words were........

Don't ever forget that I will always love you.

Peggy has forgotten that I love her.....

But I haven't forgotten.

I'll will always love you, Snodgrass!

My sister's and I gave her that name on her 13th birthday and it stuck.

Time and Alzheimer's has taken your memory of love and erased the knowledge that are sisters.  Alzheimer's is powerful but it can never take away the love that I have in my heart for you.

We share a history that is burned into my memory and seared into my soul.

As long as I can remember.....I will remember You!

I Love You Today, Peggy!

Mary Louise

Tuesday, September 28, 2004



I wonder what it would be like if we didn't have mirrors to view our physical image. What would it be like if we could only see ourselves from the inside.... looking out?

We would not know if we were beautiful or plain. We would have to rely on other people to tell us how we look physically.

It is really true that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Peggy was a beautiful woman on the outside before she developed Alzheimer's disease.

Her physical image has changed since Alzheimer's has taken over her body.

I hardly knew the woman that I saw when I visited with her. Her physical appearance has changed. She is bloated from the medicine that she is taking and wears no make-up. Her hair is cut short for convenience sake.

The other Peggy always had polished nails and dressed impeccably. She had her hair highlighted regularly and wore beautiful clothes. She was hardly ever without her makeup applied to perfection.

The Alzheimer's Peggy lives from day to day looking from the inside out. Mirrors do not mean anything to her.                           How she looks to other people does not mean anything to her now.  Makeup, hair styles, clothes and polished nails do not mean anything to her.

What a relief to never worry about what other people think of how we look on the outside.

What a relief to be comfortable with yourself, just the way you are.

I do think that beauty is in the eye of the beholder because when I saw this new Peggy, this Peggy who is in the last stages of Alzheimer's disease....... I saw beauty.

I saw a little girl who followed me around.

I saw the teenager laughing at a joke.

I saw the young mother holding her babies.

I saw the active golfer and tennis player.

I saw a vivacious wife and mother.

I looked right past the outside of Peggy whose body is ravaged with Alzheimer's disease. 

I saw the Peggy who is a still a beautiful person on the inside.

Peggy will always be beautiful to me because I know the real Peggy.

The Peggy that lives on the inside...looking out.

I Love You Today, Peggy!

Mary Louise