Wednesday, April 28, 2004



She is your mirror, shining back at you with a world of  possibilities.   She is your witness, who sees you at your worst and your best and loves you anyway!  She is your partner in crime, your midnight companion.  She is someone who knows if you are smiling, even in the dark.   She is your teacher, your defense attorney, your personal press agent, even your shrink and................ 

Somedays, the reason that you wish that you were an only child. ... ..... ...Barbara Alpert

  I will be leaving for a long weekend tomorrow and will write again on Monday.  

 Happy Birthday to me on Friday!!!    

I Love all of my sisters today!      

Mary Louise

Monday, April 26, 2004


When night comes and the sun has gone away…Is the sun gone forever?  No, it has just gone to shine somewhere else!


Is the Peggy that I have known gone? Yes.         Is she gone forever? No, she is waiting for the time when she will go and shine somewhere else.


When night comes, it can feel heavy,black and sometimes...scary but then, if I look up I can see the brilliant stars that cannot shine in the daylight.    So, the night has its dark beauty.                        The darker the night, the brighter the stars!


I am trying to understand the brightness that Alzheimer’s holds for those of us who love Peggy.  I am learning that it does hold light.  I have been forced to learn the places that darkness and light reside within me.


I have found a strength that I didn’t know that I had.  I have found a softness in my soul because of my tears. I have learned that death is not the worst thing that can happen to a person. I have learned to face my fear of developing the same disease.


Watching Peggy live in the dark night of Alzheimer’s I have learned to live each day and walk in the sun while it is here.  I have learned that the darkest of nights have the brightest of stars. In my darkness, I tend to hold my head down instead of turning my face upward to see the brilliant display above me.  I have learned  because of the darkness Of Alzheimer's Disease to look up in my darkest hours and see the lights twinkling above me.


I have learned that though Alzheimer’s has taken Peggy away, I will never let it steal the memories that I have of her.  I have written my memories down and even if I develop the disease at some point, my memories are safe.


I have learned to enjoy the warm sun of a bright day and I have learned to embrace the darkness of the night.


I have learned to accept me as I am, in the sunshine or in the darkness.                                    I have learned that I am a strong person who is given sunshine and darkness to deal with every day and do you know what?


I am ready for the challenge.


I Love You Today, Peggy!


Mary Louise

Friday, April 23, 2004


It is so easy to get down and feel bad after talking with Peggy. Especially on a day like today when she was quiet and answered everything that I said with one word.  Her voice held no emotion as I chatted away trying to keep the quiet and sad Out of my voice.

I was exhausted when I hung up the phone. Pretending to be "Up" is very tiring. It was difficult to try and think of things to say that could draw her into the conversation.

Peggy's home has become her safe place but it has also become her prison. She cannot break free of the bars that Alzheimer's has placed around her mind. The keys to the locked cell have been discarded and there is no hope of finding them so that I can set her free..

Alzheimer's Disease has sentenced Peggy to live in this prison for the rest of her life. She can have visitors but is not allowed to touch, exchange ideas or leave her safe place. She can only wonder and be confused about what is going on in the outside world.

I visit her every day to reassure her that I know she is there and although I cannot set her free, I can hold her hands through the bars and let her know that she has not been forgotten.

There are many people who come and go in our lives...A Few touch us in ways that change us forever, making us Better for knowing them.

Peggy is one of those people in my life.

I have held many things in my hands and I have lost them all;  but whatever I have placed in God's hands...........................................

That I Still Possess........Martin Luther

I Love You Today, Peggy!

Mary Louise



Wednesday, April 21, 2004



I have often wondered what Peggy dreams at night. If she dreams that she is well and able to soar and learn and help the people that she loves. No one will ever know what is in her heart or in her dreams.

I do know that in my dreams, she is whole again and we are running and soaring like the birds. We are dancing and laughing. We are whispering secrets and planning adventures...... and then there is the bad dream.

I am in a beautiful green field with rolling hills and colorful flowers.  I feel calm and thoughtful. Then, in the distance, I see someone running toward me. As the person gets closer, I realize that it is Peggy. I start running toward her but when we meet, I see that she is crying and has a terrified look in her eyes. I see her mouth making the words "HELP ME" but I cannot hear her words. She keeps crying and pleading with me to get to her and help her.

    I notice that there is a clear barrier between us and it goes as high as the sky and as wide as the earth. She places her hands on the clear barrier and is screaming for me to help her. In my panic, I try to get under,over and around the barrier. Then, I try to break through the barrier but there is no way that I can reach her.              I start to cry with her as I put my palms on the barrier and place them over her palms and I mouth the words to her, I love you, Peggy. I place my face on the clear barrier and she does the same and we cry as we sink to the ground. We understand that there is no way that I can reach her and bring her to the safe side of the barrier

Then, I wake, crying. I realize every time that I have this dream that there is nothing that I can do to save Peggy.                        Alzheimer's Disease has placed this clear barrier between us and there is no way to get through it, around it, over it or under it. I can still see her and she can still see me but we can never be the sisters that we once were... ever again. We can only see one another through the Alzheimer's clear barrier.

 I have to place my hands on the cold barrier and motion for her to do the same, we put our cheeks together and cry as we slide down the barrier to the ground.I cannot save her from what Alzheimer's is doing to her but I will be there for her.

She is disappearing a little more every day as I watch her from my side of the clear, Alzheimer's barrier.                                              I can barely feel her cheeks and hands any longer and I know that one night when the dream returns... Peggy will no longer be on the other side asking for my help because she will be free from the Alzheimer's barrier.

And...I will be sitting on the ground in a field of  beautiful flowers and green rolling hills, smiling because My Sister, My Forever Friend is free at last from the prison of Alzheimer's Disease.

I Love You Today, Peggy!

Mary Louise


Tuesday, April 20, 2004


My Sisters have taught me how to live...George Wasserstein

We may look old and wise to the outside world. But to each other, we are still in Junior High School.......Charlotte Gray

Sisters are connected throughout their lives by a special bond---        whether they try to ignore it or not. For better or for worse, sisters remain sisters, until death do them part.....Brigid McConville

Until the ending of our days, we will be part of one another's lives. However far apart, however different, we are essential to each other....Pam Brown

Having a sister means having one of the most beautiful and unique of human relationships. We share with our sisters a special intimacy, a communion of heart and mind more powerful than any friendship.......Author unknown

They say, "Never look back"-  but all we've done together, seen together... been through together is worth remembering. All the sharing, all the daring. All the mischief, all the fun....................... Pam Brown

To all of my sisters.

I Love You Today!

Mary Louise

Monday, April 19, 2004



There is rain and then…. there is rain.   

Sometimes, rain is soft, warm and welcoming.                    There are times when the rain is cold and hard.

I like to walk in a warm soft rain. I enjoy the wet drops as the slide down my face and it doesn’t matter if my clothes get soaked. It is a wonderful feeling to hold my mouth open and catch the drops. There is nothing threatening about walking in that type of rain.

Then, there is the cold hard rain with ominous sounds of thunder in the distance and flashes of lighting cross the sky. There are dark skies and a promise of a rain storm that could contain damaging, tornado winds. As the storm approaches there are dark, black-green clouds and when it pours its cold water on my part of the earth there will be destruction.

This is the weather bulletin for anyone who is facing the storm of Alzheimer’s disease.

Nothing can stop the Alzheimer’s storm as it approaches from the distance.  More damage is done to the mind the closer the Alzheimer’s storm gets. The damaging wind becomes a tornado and whirls through the brain and destroys everything in its path.

Memories in its path are uprooted and scattered. Thoughts are violently tossed in a whirling column of air. As the storm progresses, its heavy rain drowns the personality and washes away speech. It forces the mind to hide in a deep shelter that will never open

Nothing can stop the damaging and fatal storm of Alzheimer’s as it continues to destroy Peggy's mind.

I will hold to her hands until the storm is over and calm comes to her. Then, I will know that she is safe and the storm in her brain has ended. She will finally have the peace of the warm, spring rain on her face.

When Peggy’s storm is over, I will walk in a gentle, warm spring rain and think of her and what she taught me as she struggled through the storm of Alzheimer’s disease.

I Love You Today, Peggy ...more than you can remember!

Mary Louise


Friday, April 16, 2004


We are not called by God to do extraordinary things, but to do ordinary things with extraordinary love.........                             Jean Vanier  

Peggy was distant yesterday and today and in her own world. I could tell that she didn't need me and didn't seem to want to talk to me.

How does one handle the feeling of not being needed, of not being useful to help with living life?

I felt that I was standing at her door, knocking and ringing the door bell and no one was coming to open the door.                                                                                        

In my mind, I can see her through the windows; I can see her walking around. No matter how hard I knocked or how loud I called out to her, she couldn't hear me or let me come inside.   

There are times when I want to walk away from her door and say... O K!   You want it this way...You Got It! I see myself walking away but look once more through the windows to give my defiant stare.  Then, I see her standing in the middle of the room...Not sure what to do. She is trying to decide if she should open the door to this stranger who keeps knocking. This New...Old Stranger in her life.

I cannot and will not walk away. I will just stay at her door and knock softly. Maybe, just maybe she will open the door to her mind and say...Hi M. L. Where have you been? Come on inside!  I've been hoping you would visit!

I have choices. I can run away from her door, the door the Alzheimer's has locked for Peggy or I can wait at her door. I can wait for the day that the door will open, if only for a moment and we can hug and she will say......................

I've really missed you!        

I Love You Today, Peggy!

Mary Louise                       



Wednesday, April 14, 2004


Life may not be the party we hoped for...but while we are here... We might as well Dance!  (unknown)

Peggy continues to dance even with Alzheimer's Disease. This disease will not stop her joy at the small things in life.

This morning, Peggy was watching the Red Birds out of the window and enjoying them so much. Richard put the bird feeder outside of the window so she could watch them every day.

She said that all the red birds had come and she was laughing and enjoying this small part of her life that most of us take for granted.

I told her to name one of the birds Mary Louise and she thought that was so funny. It is good to hear her laugh.

Today, I will make a point of enjoying the small things in life...    The birds, the flowers, the sunshine, the blue sky and nature in general. All because Peggy made those things Big this morning by her joy of seeing the red birds.             

I Love You Today, Peggy!

Mary Louise

Tuesday, April 13, 2004


When I was young, I was involved in the pageant scene. Those days turned into married life and babies but my sister's never let me forget those pageant days. Every time I would come home, they would crown me something! They didn't want me to miss my crown and pageant days. The picture above was taken when I came home for a visit and they crowned me "Miss Triple Wide".

I watched the Miss Universe pageant last night and was so sad.  This was something that Peggy and I always did together.       I remembered all the televised Miss USA's and Miss America Pageants that Peggy and I watched together...On The Phone!

When we were girls, the big thing to do was to play Miss America. We would get a discarded curtain for our royal robe. Make a crown out of tin foil, use a baton as a scepter and take turns pretending that we had just won and were the new... Miss America! We would walk down the hallway of our house waving to the crowds of  imaginary, adoring fans.

When we grew up and never won the pageant...(smile) we would watch it on television, miles apart and call one another during commercials and give up dates and judgments as to who would win. We were nearly always right as we choose the top ten young women and the new Miss America or Miss USA.

Watching those pageants together by phone became a yearly ritual for us. We would hoot and hiss at some decisions. Always wanting Miss Alabama to get in the top ten and win.

I watched the pageant last night and cried some, because I missed Peggy, hissed some, hooted some but I did it alone. There was no Peggy on the phone to share the pagent with me. No, Peggy to share the fact that Miss Alabama didn't win this year and to ask one another.... what in the world were the judges thinking!

Watching those pageants alone is another reminder that Peggy will not be apart of my future.

It was just a little silly thing that we did together that is gone.... because of Alzheimer's Disease.

Be beautiful inside, in your hearts, with lasting charm of a gentle and quiet spirit.

Sisters touch your heart in ways no other could...  Sisters share....their hopes, their fears, their love, Everything that they have. Real friendship springs from their special bond...  Carrie Bagwell


I Love You Today, Peggy! I missed you last night.

Mary Louise

Monday, April 12, 2004


I still cannot believe that Alzheimer's entered your life, Peggy!         I sometimes think that I will wake up and it would have been a bad dream.

Why do bad things happen to good people? A question of the ages!

We were a good team, Peggy. You even liked to watch the video's that I produced and I enjoyed hearing your stories. We shared a special bond.

I remember the week that we spent in Ft. Walton Beach, just to talk and sort out our lives. So much was going on at that time and we spent the week trying to find solutions and give each other support. Plus, we had a blast just hanging out on the beach and taking the time for our tennis battles. You had a mean forehand and I have a killer backhand. It was a good week for us to sort out our lives and play together.

There is still much to sort out for me while your life has already been sorted out by Alzheimer's Disease.

Betty Jean, Barbara and I have made plans for our Sister's Trip this summer. We are all sad that you cannot come but you will be there.... You will be there when we remember stories of you and share them with one another. You are always in our hearts and minds.

It is difficult for each of us to let you go. Maybe, there is another hidden blessing in Alzheimer's Disease. We get to let you go in stages and not all at once. I'm not sure which would be easier.

I just know that It hurts to watch you disappear and hurts to finally come to the realization that there is not enough love on this earth to help you stay or be the way that you were. So...We Remember.

We remember how you made us laugh.

We remember how you cared.

We remember your wonderful spunk and spirit.

We shared the same parents, the same smells of childhood, the same memories of Christmas' at home. We shared summers and winters on St. Charles Court.

We have much to be thankful for and much to Grieve about.

I feel privileged that I knew you as a little girl, as a young woman, as a bride, as a new mother and always as my Sister.

Thank you Peggy for... All the Old Times and all the fun times.

I will always cherish and remember the "You" that you were and all of our times together.

I have heard it said that Love never dies...It just goes to shine somewhere else!

Where ever you are going...I know that you will shine like the brightest star! 

                                                                                                          When Alzheimer's finally takes you away Peggy....

I will go outside on a dark night and look up to the heavens and  find the brightest star, twinkling...I know that it will be you....... saying Hello to me.

Recall it as often as you wish, A happy memory never wears out........Libbie Fudim

Who we are... is connected to those we love and to those who have influenced us toward goodness.......Christopher de Vinck

I Love You Today, Peggy!

Mary Louise




Saturday, April 10, 2004






.  . .

Friday, April 9, 2004


Easter......The Promise of Spring!

There is so much to look forward to in the Spring Time. All the joy's of warm day's and Sunshine. Flowering trees and beautiful flowers.

I wish that Peggy had one more Spring to enjoy and be well.

It would be wonderful to see her emerge from her Winter and enjoy the warmth of Spring.

She lives in one season and one season only and that is the Winter of Alzheimer's. No warm day's, flowering trees or beautiful flowers.

The awful thing about Alzheimer's Disease is that it even takes away the ability to Remember Spring and it's beauty.

Would that all the tears I have cried could water her remembrances of  the spring time of last year and long ago.

The Easter's of new dresses, new shoes and easter baskets. Of going to church on Easter morning and sitting in the balcony, trying not to laugh. Of feeling pretty and wonderful in our new clothes!

Easter and spring are the times of rebirth from the long winter but... Not for Peggy.

She will continue to live in her Alzheimer's induced Winter for the rest of her life.

That means that I too, will experience Winter on the warm day's of this beautiful spring because we are sister's and I will always be there for her.

I will tell her about the flowers and trees and try to bring a little warmth into her Winter World.

The wonder of living is held within the beauty of silence, the glory of sunlight, the sweetness of the fresh spring air, the quiet strength of earth and... the love that lies at the very root of all things.

I Love You, Peggy!

Mary Louise

Thursday, April 8, 2004


When I called Peggy this morning the sitter said that when she heard the phone ring she broke into the biggest smile!

That's all that I needed!

What I experienced yesterday was the Mary Louise April Pity Party.

Of course, I could never give up and not call Peggy.

Sometimes, I just need to step back and...BREATHE!

When I let myself think that there will be no more Sister's Weeks where Peggy is there and  no more talks about what is going on in our lives..I start to feel very sorry for myself.

I miss our connection so much that I get angry and want to stop being reminded every day that we will never have that again.

She still needs me on some level...I can feel it and even though it hurts to be reminded every day that she is disappearing, I can still hear her voice and her laughter.

I have to remind myself that I am the well one here.

I am the one who can give and not receive.

This is what Sister's do and what I will continue to do.

It does hurt to know that she probably doesn't put my face to my voice any longer.

I pray every day that God will give me the wisdom to be who and what I need to be for Peggy, My Forever Friend.

Peggy, I miss you so much and you can count on my call tomorrow morning.

Just like always!

Love feels no burden, thinks nothing of trouble, attempts what is above its strength,and pleads........                                           No excuse of impossibility.         Thomas a. Kempis              

I Love You Today, Peggy!

Mary Louise

Wednesday, April 7, 2004


I didn't call Peggy yesterday.. on purpose.

I asked the sitter this morning if she thought that my Not calling had made a difference. She said she didn't think so but Peggy was always glad to get a call.

I question myself this morning as to why I keep putting myself through making a call to her every day if it doesn't make a difference to her. It always gets my day off to a bad start so why do I keep putting myself through this every day?

Maybe, I should stop calling for a while and give myself a break from the stress. I don't know what I should do.

I was hoping that my calls were making a difference. I Wanted my calls to make a difference.

Maybe, I should just take care of myself for a while and get off this Merry-Go-Round and stand on solid ground and heal my heart.

I feel so guilty for even thinking about not calling Peggy every day. I've been doing it for almost 3 years now. I now have to assess who the calls were for...Peggy or Me.

I know that she is well taken care of and maybe, at this time I need to Take care of myself and my mental health, slow the Merry-Go-Round so that I can jump off and rest.

I'm just not sure what to do.

 I Really thought that I was making a difference and Now, I know that I am not.

Peggy would be the first to tell me to take care of myself.

I think that I need to do this but I feel so guilty. I must admit that it was a relief yesterday Not to make the call and hear her struggle with words and sentences but Today...she was laughing!

I love the Merry-Go-Round but I want to get off of this one for a while and only call once or twice a week. Not sure if I am being selfish.

I feel so torn this morning.

I Love You Today, Peggy!  I wish you could tell me what to do.

A Sister is a little bit of Childhood that can Never be Lost!......Marion C. Garretty

Mary Louise

Tuesday, April 6, 2004


When I was 4 years old, my parents said that I would wake in the night crying. I would say that I didn't want to get old. Maybe, I knew somewhere in my 4 year old mind that time would go quickly.

I do remember when Christmas Eve seemed to last forever and my birthday seemed so far away.

Now Now!

Monday becomes Monday again in the blink of an eye. Weeks melt into years and I hardly notice that a year has passed. New Year's Eve comes faster and faster. My children grew up and left home and I still wonder how that happened so fast.

I thought that Peggy and I would have time to grow old together. Now, I realize that it will not happen.

I do know now that time doesn't mean minutes spent but minutes lived. I have lived in time thinking that there would always be time for everything. I spent time thinking that we would always be around for one another.

Time stopped for Peggy when Alzheimer's decided to take our time away. She stopped living minutes and I stopped thinking that time was on our side.

Now, I remember our times together but time has no meaning to her any longer. Time for Peggy has been replaced by existing. Our times as Sisters has slowed  and is coming to a stop just like our Grandfather clock when I forget to wind it every seven days. When that happens...there is an Erie quite in the house. It's as if the heart beat of our home has stopped. That is what losing Peggy feels like to me.

The most important lesson that I have learned from Alzheimer's Disease is that there is only NOW, this moment because time is never promised, just wished for, just expected. 

How often have I said to myself, I wish that I had a little more time to spend with Mother and Daddy. You cannot get time back once it has passed and that is the best reason to enjoy and cherish the moments with Mother's and Daddy's, Sister's and Brother's, Husband's and Wives and children.

This is my moment in time. I have learned about how precious my moments are. I will always hunt around in my past but I won't dwell there as before.

I know that I cannot change what has happened but I can start appreciating the minutes that lie ahead. It is so easy to keep remembering and not live in the present. I am learning through Alzheimer's that this is the only moment that I have.

Peggy, Thank you for reminding me every day when I hear your voice, to live my life today and not get lost in yesterday.

The only thing that we truly have is.... Now.

Not yesterday and not tomorrow.

Only this very moment in time is truly.. ours.TIME WAITS FOR NO ONE!

I Love You Today, Peggy!

Mary Louise

Monday, April 5, 2004




WHAT???????                Happy Easter to everyone!

To My Sisters and  My Brother.

To the outside world we all grow old. But not to brothers and sisters.

We know each other as we always were.

We know each other's hearts. We share private family jokes.

We remember family feuds and secrets, family griefs and joys.


I Love You Today, Peggy!

Mary Louise

Friday, April 2, 2004


Our parents instilled in us early that we were to take care of one another. We have always done that and it continues today.

We have established what I refer to as "The Sister's Emergency Network."

It goes like this...

 I call Barbara and say that I had a terrible cold and feel awful or that I am having a difficult week and I am feeling down. Who ever I call, listens and encourages and tells me to call later to say how things are going.

Later that day the phone rings and it is Betty Jean calling to check up on me. She said that Barbara had called her and told her that I wasn't feeling well. It goes around like this all of the time...calling a sister to tell her to call another sister who needs care or just wants to share a joy or a pain.

This is what we do for one another. We lift each other up and stay connected.

It doesn't have to be bad news...Good news travels the same way.

Sometimes, we get on a three way call and will talk, talk talk!

When Barbara and Betty Jean were visiting Peggy a few weeks ago, I felt like I was there because they kept in touch by phone. One call was from Green Valley Drug Store where they were having a BLT sandwich together for lunch. I felt that I was at the table with them. I talked to BettyJean, Barbara and Peggy during their lunch.

This network wouldn't have happened if it weren't for our Mother's insistence that we care for one another. She taught us that we didn't have to Like one another but that we did have to Love one another. Now, we all live in different parts of the country and many miles apart but stay close through The Sister's Emergency Network and Our once a year Sister's Trip.

Don't get me wrong....(smile) we still have our "gettin sideways times." It wouldn't be normal if we didn't because we are all so different. We were taught that being different wasn't a bad thing but to forget that Blood is Thicker than Water was a really bad thing!

Peggy can no longer participate in the net work and reach out to us but we all reach out to her in our own way's. We all stand strong beside her and lift her up because we love her and more important....


My sister is my strength. She hears the whispered prayers that I cannot speak. She helps me find my smile, Freely giving hers away. She catches my tears in her gentle hands.....    Lisa Lorden

A Sister is Both your Mirror--- and Your Opposite......        Elizabeth Fishel

I Love You Today... Betty Jean, Barbara and Peggy!

Mary Louise

Thursday, April 1, 2004


I could not write yesterday...There were No words to express what I was feeling.     I didn't know if there would be words today when I sat down to type but they just came pouring out.

When I heard you talk today, Peggy... I didn't hear you...I only heard the echoes of our Past.

Our Past.... with No Future.

No, Hello's in our future, no talks, no Sister's Weeks, no shared feelings, no Sister secrets on the phone.  All I have as I write today is.... our past.                        Alzheimer's has made sure of that. We only have "What Was" and not "What Will Be."   

Alzheimer's has taken away the joy's and expressions of our Sister's.

I treasure all of the Echoes that we have shared.

I am thankful that we have so many wonderful Echoes for me to recall.

I will carry those echoes of laughter, secret talks, shared dreams, hurts, plans, joy's and the sister love that we had for one another into my future. 

I will  Remember the "You" that helped make "Me" who I am, as I write today.  

I just wish that there was some way for me to let you know, at this stage of your disease, how much I love you and how sad that I am knowing that this is where it all ends. Alzheimer's has decided that being Sister's and sharing is not important.            

 I will continue to try and let you know what a special person that I think you are.

I will continue to call you even though it rips my heart out on some day's because there are still those day's when you make me laugh and I can hear, in your voice....

The Echos Of Our Past!                     

Mary Louise