Thursday, May 27, 2004


I didn't feel like writing on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The calls are getting harder to make each day.

Peggy has no idea that she is talking with me. She has lost the ability to put a face to a voice or to know how to hang up the phone after I say good-bye.

It is odd to hear her familiar voice and feel as though I am talking with a stranger, but I am.

What can you say to a person who doesn't remember you any longer and cannot recall their own history. 

Peggy and I were so close all of our years together. Now, I feel a sense of lost without her.  There is no way to tell her how lost I am feeling and have her understand that concept.

It is difficult to deal with being forgotten. All my insecurities come to the surface as I wander in my mind to the possibility that I too, may get Alzheimer's. I have to fight to keep a healthy outlook or my fear would freeze me.

Some day's, I just cry as I deal with the empty space where Peggy used to be. She is so young to endure this terrible fate. We were supposed to grow old together and share our lives along the way.  Now, there is only winter in our Summer chairs.

Today, Peggy was quiet as she answered my questions with one word. I wanted to scream through the phone and say..STOP THIS....        I Hate this. Just talk to me like you used to do. I felt frustrated while listening to her struggle.   I wanted to say...Peggy, wake up..this isn't funny any longer. STOP IT...STOP IT right now!

Today, I wished that I could tell her about my week but she isn't there any more. I can't share with her any longer. She is not my best friend any longer and I morn that loss.

I am dealing with a stranger that I have known all of my life. A stranger who has little memory of me. A familiar, detached stranger who continues to move farther and farther away.

It is unsettling to remember so much about her and to know that she...didn't even know who I was this morning.

A Happy thought crossed my mind as I hung up the phone though....

At Least I wasn't Jim from last week!! (smile)

My heart is hurting this morning as I think about this stranger who used to be Peggy.  There is no place more comforting than the arms of a sister and I know that I will never have that with Peggy, ever again.

Alzheimer's disease has entered her mind and sucessfully erased  her memories of me.

It feels bad to be forgotten.....

Forgotten  a. not remembered, not recalled,not recollected, lost, out of one's mind, erased from one's consciousness, beyond recollection, not recoverable, blanked out,  lapsed.........


Peggy has forgotten that we are sister's but....

I Remember and will continue to remind her that she is loved. She might not remember what love is but I do.                                        I remember...MySister...My Friend. Sometimes...We have to love, knowing that we will not be loved back.    

I Love You Today, Peggy!

Mary Louise

Monday, May 24, 2004


Peggy had a hard time talking this morning. She answered  yeah to every question and had no idea that she was talking with me. I asked her who she was talking with and she never answered my question.

Calls like this are difficult and I am drained when I hang up the phone.  The voice on the other end of the phone line sounds like Peggy but the ability to communicate with her is getting harder.

Today, I must have said good-bye to her 10 times. She would say bye to me but not hang up the phone.                                      Finally, I said; Peggy, you can hang up the phone now. She laughed and said O K, bye and thanks but didn't hang up. I was painfully aware that another memory has been erased from her mind.         The memory to hang up the phone after a conversation is over.

I finally had to close the cover of my cell phone to disconnect after 10 minutes of saying good-bye. I felt a wave of sadness wash over me as I put my cell phone back into my pocket. I then cried for the Peggy that I used to know and for the Peggy that has disappeared from my life.

Talking with her every day is like watching sand run through an hour glass. More of Peggy is tricking from the top bulb to the bottom of the hourglass every minute.

The sand in the top of the hourglass is who she was...The sand in the bottom of the hourglass is who she has become.

 I cannot turn Peggy's hourglass over when all of the sand runs out so that she can start over again.

When all of the sand that was Peggy has fallen to the bottom...

Her fear will be over.....

Her struggles will be over....

Her life will be over....

Alzheimer's has put Peggy's mind in an hourglass and I can only watch as she slides away from everyone that she loves.

All that I can do now is.....

Keep her in my heart and remember with a smile.... 

when the top of the hourglass was full.

I Love You Today, Peggy!

Mary Louise


Friday, May 21, 2004


I just got off the phone with Peggy. I asked her who was visiting her today and she said; Mary Louise.

What will you be doing?

I don't know.

Will you go shopping together?


Will you just stay home?


Peggy, Give Mary Louise a big hug for me, O. K.


I Love You Today, Peggy.

I Love You Too.

Bye, Peggy. Have a good time with Mary Louise this afternoon and tell her hello for me.

I will.

Bye, Peggy.


I held back the tears as I said bye to her. I'm glad that I was visiting in her Alzheimer's mind today.

It makes me feel good and bad to know that she thought that I was with her today.

Good... because on some level she remembers me.

Bad... because she had no idea who she was talking with.

It is so difficult to balance the feelings of knowing that I am with her in her thoughts but not with her in the present.

I hate this disease and what it is doing to Peggy's mind. Losing her like this makes me so angry.

She was such a gentle, caring person. So much fun and so full of life.

Why didn't Alzheimer's choose a person who had no love for people, no goals or care for other peoples feelings. A person that was just out for what they could get.

Why do Bad things happen to Good people?

I just know that it hurts to my bones to watch Peggy disappear like this but one of the blessings of Alzheimer's is that I get to let go of her in stages and not all at once.

I have much to be thankful for and much to grieve about this morning.

A person is valuable just because they exist. Not because of what you do or what you have done, but Simply because You are You........Max Lucado

Peggy has been a special sister to me and I miss her warmth, laughter and our talks.

Losing her has made a huge hole in my heart that I must now fill up with memories that play like a movie.

She was my friend.

On the day that Peggy was born...God shouted.... YES!

On the day that she dies and goes to be with God...I will be happy for her and glad that her nightmare is over.............

 And through my tears...I will Look up towards heaven and shout.........YES!!!!

I Miss You Today and I Love You Today, Peggy!

Mary Louise

Thursday, May 20, 2004


Voice mail picked up when I called Peggy this morning. I will have to say that I am glad for the breather.

Calling every day gets heavy sometime and I need to put my heavy load down and rest. I feel guilty about even saying that because all I do is call Peggy while others have to be there every day with no rest.

Watching someone you love disappear from Alzheimer's disease is like running in a marathon and carrying a 100 pound boulder as you try to complete the race. 

I need to stop every few steps to put the boulder down, catch my breath and rest before I continue the race. Then, I can pick up my boulder and run for a few more minutes.

I notice as the people run past me in this race of life that they are not all carrying the same size boulders. Some boulders are bigger than mine and some have no boulders to carry as they run the race. The runners seem to fly by me to the finish line as I struggle to run a few more steps... 

While I am running in this race, a little more of the boulder that I am carrying crumbles away. I know that when I reach the finish line it will means that the sister that I love and have been carrying in this race has finally disappeared.

I can't look ahead and see how far I have to go...I have to look back and see how far I have come. I just keep taking small steps and putting the boulder down to rest every now and then.

I keep on running because I know that I must be with Peggy when she finishes her race. I must finish the Marathon that Alzheimer's has sponsored so I can be with her when she crosses the finish line. 

One day, I will see the finish line in the distance and take what is left of Peggy's boulder in the palm of my hand. I will stretch my arms forward as much as I can to break the ribbon.

 Then, I can finally raise my arms in victory before I gently lay down what is left of Peggy.  I will know then that I did my best and completed the race.

I know that Alzheimer's disease will also finished the race but it has not won in it's destruction of Peggy. Because I will carry a little of the her crumbled boulder in my heart for the rest of my life and remember with fondness when it was whole.

Right now, I will keep on running and watch Peggy crumble away....All the pieces of who she was are lying, collapsed on the ground. For a long time I tried to find all of the pieces that represent Peggy so that I could put her back together again.... but in my struggle I finally realized that I couldn't make the pieces fit and it broke my heart.  I remembered the Nursery Rhyme that said;

"All the Kings horses and all the Kings men....and I thought..... can't put Peggy back together again."

I have finally stopped trying to put Peggy back together again and just try to enjoy the pieces of her that are left.

We will finish this race together just like we started this race of life together. It really doesn't matter if we are in pieces or are whole when our race is completed.. We are Sister's and Sister's only see one another through the eyes of love and that Love makes us whole. 

Alzheimer's can never break us apart because...Sister's are Forever.

I Love You Today, Peggy!

Mary Louise



Wednesday, May 19, 2004


Peggy was laughing when she came to the phone today. I asked her who was there and she said, Jim.

I didn't ask her who she was talking with this morning but when I said good-bye she said; Bye Jim...Thanks.  I smiled as I hung up the phone.

She may not remember who I am but I remember who she is.....I will keep the Peggy that I know close to my heart, always.

I am glad that she was happy today and laughing. She has a beautiful laugh and it was good to hear it. I never know when her laugh will go away and her voice will be flat again.  It's curious how this disease can bring such high's and low's to a person's mind.

I can't help but wish that I was the one who was making Peggy happy today but if it takes Jim....Then, JIM IT IS because he was making my sister light hearted and happy in her shrinking, Alzheimer's world.

So, whoever you are, Jim, Thank you for visiting Peggy's mind and for making her laugh and also for being.... her Guardian Angel.        I am grateful that you stopped by to keep Peggy company on this Grey day...outside my window and in my heart.

Keep up the good work, Jim because I cannot be with Peggy in person......I'm glad that you were with her today and that you can fill up her mind with laughter.

It is hard being so far away from miles and in her remembrance of me but I feel comfort knowing that her Guardian Angel, Jim is making her laugh and keeping her company as her world continues to get smaller and smaller.

I am Grateful to you today......Angel Jim.  Please stay close to Peggy as she continues to disappear from this world and from my life.

I Love You Today, Peggy!

Mary Louise

Tuesday, May 18, 2004


There is no way to understand how Peggy's brain is working. I was ready to hang up after talking for a while when I asked...

Peggy, do you know who this is?

Yes, she said.

Who am I?

Your Jim........

I wasn't sure if I wanted to laugh or cry. Who the heck is Jim?

Peggy seems to get worse with each call and there is not a single thing that I can do.

She answered my questions with one word. Yes, no, good and I can't leave out Jim.. now can I!  

I hope that the Jim she thought I was this morning is a nice person. I hope that she knows that Jim and Mary Louise care about her so very much.

My eyes wanted to cry when she thought that I was Jim but my heart had to laugh because I know that she is trying so hard to sound normal.

She said "Jim" with the assurance that she knew who she was  talking with. I didn't have the heart to tell her she was wrong and that it was me.

So, this is Jim saying good-bye today.

I Love You Today, Peggy

Jim AKA Mary Louise


Friday, May 14, 2004


 I called Peggy this morning and I could tell that she didn't know who I was. I said; this is Mary Louise, your sister. There was silence....Then she hung up the phone.

I started to call back but decided to let it be..for today. It just hurt too much to call again.

Then I thought of the song "Bring On The Rain" by Jodee Messina and Tim McGraw.

Here are the words to the song and they express exactly how I am feeling as I write today.


Another day has almost come and gone. I can't imagine what else could go wrong.

Sometimes, I'd like to hide away somewhere and lock the door. A Single Battle Lost...but Not the War.

Cause tomorrow's another day and I'm thirsty bring on the rain!

It's almost like the hard times circle round. A couple drops and they all start coming down. Yeah, I might feel defeated and I might hang my head. I might be barely breathing but I'm not dead.

Cause tomorrow's another day and I'm thirsty bring on the rain.

No, I'm not gonna let it get me down and I'm not gonna cry. I won't lose any sleep tonight because....

Tomorrow's another day and I am Not Afraid...So bring on the rain.


I Miss You Peggy!

My tears are for Not being remembered today. But my tears also wash out all the pain that builds up in my heart.

There are many people who come and go in our lives. A few touch us in ways that change us forever and make us better because we knew them.

Peggy is one of those people in my life.

I Love You Today, Peggy and I miss you more than I could ever write!

Stop telling God how big your storm is...

Tell your Storm how Big Your God is......

Mary Louise

Thursday, May 13, 2004


I talked with Peggy's sitter for a while this morning. She said, I don't want to hurt your feelings but I don't think Peggy knew who you were yesterday. I reassured her that I understood that and for her not to worry.

When Peggy came to the phone, she was quiet, like yesterday. She used one word answers to most of my questions.

Then, she surprised me...

I said, is anyone visiting today? She replied, Yes.                            I asked who was going to visit and she said Mary Louise!               I said, she is???   When is she coming? Peggy replied, she is here now.   Great, I said. Will you give her a big hug for me?          Peggy said, yes.

To lighten my mood and to keep from crying, I asked ...Well, How is M. L. looking these days? Peggy's answer was... She looks real good and is happy!  I said; I hope ya'll have a good time together Peggy. We will, she said.  You know, Good times, even as a ghost with Peggy are treasured.

She does remember me on some level! What a wonderful gift today! 

It makes me happy and sad at the same time because.....                                   

If she thought that I was there with her...She had no idea who she was talking too!

It hurts to think that someone you love doesn't remember who you are.  But it is healing to think Peggy does remember a ghost of me.

I don't mind being a ghost to Peggy. Even if she doesn't know who I am today...she still has a faint memory of me from our past.

She knows that I love her enough to visit with her and that's all that really matters to me today.

Love... comes out of heaven, unasked and unsought.  Pearl S. Buck

Peggy gave me a gift today. The gift of being remembered.

I Love You Today, Peggy!

Mary Louise

Wednesday, May 12, 2004



Peggy didn't want to talk to me today. She would say, yes or no but nothing else.

The sitter said that she was very quiet today and that she could not get her to eat anything.....I asked her why she didn't want to eat and she said, don't know. I joked that I always wanted to eat!  There was no responce.

I wonder what she is thinking when she has days like this.  I wonder if she even remembers that it is me on the other end of the line.

There is no way for me to know.

After the call, I went out to sit by the waterfall. I watched as the water fell from one rock to the other and splashed into the pond below. Watching the water gives calm to my heart and also gives me time to think and put my life in perspective.

 I watched the water fall take it's predictable path down each rock to the pond below.  I thought about Peggy and what Alzheimer's disease is doing to her mind and personality.

If the water in the pond had Alzheimer's disease it would be running in reverse.

It would flow from the pond, up the rocks and into the source of the water and would stop and never flow down the rocks again.

This is what Alzheimer's disease is doing to Peggy.

It is taking her predictable flow of life from birth to old age and reversing it.

She has gone from a grown woman, to a child and eventually to the womb and death. Because if the water in the pond is reversed, it would stop at it's source.

I miss Peggy! I miss hearing the flow of her life when we talk.

Today, I realized that the flow of her life is nearing the source and soon...The water that is Peggy will cease to flow. The sounds of Peggy laughing and dancing through the flow of her life will be no more.

This will happen because Alzheimer's disease entered her brain and changed the ebb and flow of the waterfall that was Peggy's life.

I Love You Today, Peggy!

Mary Louise

Monday, May 10, 2004



When I talked with Peggy this morning...It felt surreal. I know and remember all about us but she doesn't remember. It is like meeting a stranger every day when I talk with her. It is like watching her mind burn to ashes a little more with each call.

She will answer my questions with one word and I can feel that she is still trying to make a connection with me but she just can't.

All of our lives...we have shared. Now, she has nothing to share with me.  I hang up the phone and feel a lonely, empty space in my heart where Peggy used to live, alive, bright and funny.

Alzheimer's Disease has pointed its crooked finger at Peggy's mind and like a judge, it has sentenced her to live in a blank space filled with ashes for the rest of her life. Her yesterdays have been burned away and she has no future.

I try to understand what that would feel like. I wonder if she is scared. I wonder if she dreams at night and do her dreams hold all of her memories. I wonder who she thinks that I am when I talk with her every morning.

Losing Peggy makes me so angry..... but Who do I get Angry with????

In my thoughts, I meet the figure of Alzheimer's Disease and stand face to face and eye to eye. I give it my coldest stare and take my fists and punch it until it falls to the ground and disappears just like it is causing Peggy to disappear.

I want to be the super hero who beats Alzheimer's and who protects my little sister, just like I did when we were little.

Peggy was such a gentle person and she would probably shake her head at the anger that I am feeling but I am so angry this morning.

I am Angry that Alzheimer's Disease has, in 3 years, taken Peggy's bright, active mind and reduced it to ashes. It has burned all of her memories of the past, the present and the future. It has blown like a fire storm, with white hot flames through her brain until the Peggy that I knew has only smoldering embers left in her mind.

So again, I ask...Just who do I get angry with when I feel this ferocious, bitter anger towards Alzheimer's Disease and what it has done to my sister?

 I cannot stay in this place for long or my anger instead of Alzheimer's Disease would destroy me.

 I have found a place to deal with all of this...My safe place is writing about Peggy in this journal.

I Write about how it feels to Watch my Sister...Disappear.  I use my writing to sort out my anger, my fear, my frustration and the injustice of it all.

To Peggy, I am a stranger who calls every morning at 10:00am.

For me, I am calling my sister, my forever friend...I call and remember the first time that I saw her little red scrunched up face when I was three years old.  I call just to hear the sound of her voice and to hear the sound of her laughter.

I will never be prepared for the morning that I call and know in an instant that the Fire storm of Alzheimer's Disease has completely turned all that she was and all that she could have been... To Ashes.

I Love You Today, Peggy!

Mary Louise


Friday, May 7, 2004


 The young mother set her foot on the path of life.   Is this the long way?she asked.   And the guide said Yes, and the way is hard, and you will be old before you reach the end of it.  But the end will be better than the beginning.

 But the young mother was happy, and she would not believe that anything could be better than these years.  So she played with her children, she fed them and bathed them, taught them how to tie their shoes and ride a bike, and reminded them to feed the dog and do their homework and brush their teeth.

The sun shone on them and the young Mother cried, Nothing will ever be lovelier than this. 

The nights came, and the storms and the path was sometimes dark, and  the children shook with fear and cold, and the mother drew them close and  covered them with her arms and the children said, Mother, we are not afraid, for you are near, and no harm can come.

   And the morning came, and there was a hill ahead, and the children climbed and grew weary, and the mother was weary.  But at all times she said to the children,
 a little patience and we are there.  So the children climbed and as they climbed they learned to weather the storms.


  And with this, she gave them strength to face the world.  Year after year she showed them compassion, understanding, hope, but most of all,  unconditional love.

 And when they reached the top they said, Mother, we would not have done it without you.

 The days went on, and the weeks and the months and the years, and the mother grew old and she became little and bent.  But her children were tall and strong, and walked with courage. 


 And the mother, when she lay down at night, looked up at the stars and said, This is a better day than the last, for my children have learned so much and are now passing these traits on to their children.

 And when the way became rough for her, they lifted her, and gave her their strength, just as she had given them hers.


  One day they came to a hill, and beyond the hill they could see a shining road and golden gates flung wide.

 And Mother said: I have reached the end of my journey.  And now I know the end is better than the beginning, for my children can walk with  dignity and pride, with their heads held high, and so can their children after them.

 And the children said, You will always walk with us, Mother, even when you have gone through the gates.

 And they stood and watched her as she went on alone, and the gates closed after her.

 And they said:  We cannot see her, but she is with us still.  A Mother is more than a memory.  She is a living presence.

 Your Mother is always with you.  She's the whisper of the leaves as you walk down the street, she's the smell of certain foods you remember, flowers you  pick and perfume that she wore, she's the cool hand on your brow when you're not feeling well, she's your breath in the air on a cold winters day.


 She is the sound of the rain that lulls you to sleep, the colors of a rainbow, she is your birthday morning.  Your Mother lives inside your laughter. And she's crystallized in every tear drop. 

 A mother shows every emotion..
 happiness, sadness, fear, jealousy, love, hate, anger, helplessness, excitement, joy, sorrow.. and all the while hoping and praying you will  only know the good feelings in life. 


She's the place you came from, your first home, and she's the map you follow with every step you take. 


 She's  your first love, your first friend, even your first enemy, but nothing on earth can separate you. 


 Not time, not space, not even death!


I Love You and I Miss You, Mother. Thank you for teaching me to be myself!

Mary Louise

Thursday, May 6, 2004


I recieved a box in the mail yesterday. It was my birthday box from Betty Jean.

I had a fun time going through the little, thoughtful gifts that she sent to me.

The presents were....

A crown...of course! (smile) I have it on!

Napkins that said; The Queen doesn't cook!

An article about sand....I have a sand collection with sand samples from all over the world.

A little pillow that said; Don't treat me any differently than you would The Queen!

"Eat your Peas" for sisters with cards inside that said; 1. I Love You 2. I'm so lucky.You are my sister. 3. Sister, when you need me, ASK. I want to be there for you.   There were 10 cards in all with reminders that I am loved..

A  c.d..... I love music and B J sent me, Beethoven's Moonlight. It is a beautiful C D and I will enjoy listening to it.

A beautiful card that said; Because we are Sisters, we share a precious bond. We have childhood memories to laugh at, silly stories to retell and secrets that we keep safe. Because we are sisters, we understand each other in a special way.We truly appreciate the gifts of friendship and family. Because we are sisters, we help during the hard times, share in the good times and are there for each other...Always!

She signed it....Love today, tomorrow and always!  You are a treasure to me! What would I  have without sisters? A big void in my life!   Betty Jean

During this difficult time as we Watch Peggy disappear...BettyJean, Barbara and I stay close to one another, encourage one another, cry together, miss Peggy together and stay strong for each other.                                                                                        We are all very different but so much alike in our love for one another!

We ALL Love you Today, Peggy!

Mary Louise


Wednesday, May 5, 2004


Peggy was distant when I talked with her today. I did ask the sitter if she thought that Peggy had missed my calls. She said that she honestly didn't know.

There was a flatness to Peggy's voice today. I don't think that she had any idea who I was.

 Sometimes, it feels like I am trying to catch the wind when I talk with her.

I felt like a sail boat on the ocean this morning. Just sitting with all my sails ready to glide across the water. Only,there was no wind to propel the boat forward. I had on my sailing clothes of patience, hope and faith. I had the Captain's hat on my head as a shield from the harsh sun of Alzheimer's Disease. My Sail boat was ready and  I sat in the middle of this ocean with storm clouds gathering on the horizon. I waited and hoped for a gust or a gentle breeze from Peggy's voice to get this journey through another day.             I waited for the moment of recognition that would fill my sails and give me the courage to continue.

Today was not the day of breezes for my sails. Today, there was an erie stillness in the air. I realized that I cannot wait for Peggy to move my sailboat through the water. She has forgotten how to sail.

 I will have a adjust my own sails and find the wind that I need to navigate my boat through these restless waters.

Preview I Love You Today, Peggy!

Mary Louise

Tuesday, May 4, 2004


I have not been able to write since I returned from my trip on Sunday Night.. It could be the cold that I am dealing with or resistance from some other place.  I found that I needed the days that I did not call Peggy.

 I called her yesterday and today with no answer. I was relieved on one level and worried on the other. I want to hear her voice but I don't want to hear the..Who Are her voice each time that I call.

I wonder if she has missed my calls. I am going to ask her when I reach her and try to be prepared for the "NO" answer. She can be pretty blunt with her answers.

I find myself.. again.. in a down place where Peggy is concerned.

How do I stay up, balanced and focused when I know that Peggy is going backward in time while I am moving forward? We are getting farther and farther apart.

Do I focus on the good times and try to forget the bad? Do I pretend that this is not happening? Do I just move on with my life and forget about calling a sister who doesn't even know me any longer? Do I take care of myself and not subject myself to the stress that these calls cause me every day?

Or do I do what the song says...."Just pick myself up...Dust myself off and start all over again."

What do you do if you are just not sure where the starting point is any longer!

So...What am I going to do tomorrow morning at 10:00am??

This is the question I am asking myself today.

The break from calling has been a needed relief.                    Maybe, Peggy did miss hearing from me but I will never really know. I will just keep trying to reach her through the only line of communication that we still have...The phone.

I am feeling a little sorry for myself today but I guess that is allowed.

It is hard to handle the fact that my sister doesn't remember me any longer.

I will continue to keep remembering for the both of us and hope that This is enough to ease the pain of watching her disappear with each phone call!

I Love You Today, Peggy!

Mary Louise