Friday, July 30, 2004


I just got of the phone with Peggy. I haven't been able to reach her for a few days. It was good to hear her voice again and to know that she is doing as well as possible. She seemed glad to hear my voice and that made me feel good.

Her daughter is there with her and I think that it has helped because her voice was happy today.

 I write about Alzheimer's disease in words and pictures that we all know and live through each day. I hope that more people will understand what I think Alzheimer's disease does to a person's mind, by aproaching the disease in this manner.

Last evening, I took pictures of the night as it covered Santa Barbara. I thought of how the coming of night to this beautiful place reminded me of Alzheimer's and how it covers the mind with dark.

The one thing that Alzheimer's has not successfully done to Peggy's mind is put out the light of the moon that still shines in her voice.

Even though Peggy's mind is being covered in dark....Her light is still peaking through the night and lighting a small path for her to follow.

Alzheimer's disease will win this contest but Peggy is not going into the night without a struggle.

She is the moon, still shining bright in the darkness of the Alzheimer's night.

Peggy is still shining her light and strength as Alzheimer's continues to cover her mind.  This disease will eventually cover her mind with a black so dense that no light can shine through it's darkness......

Not even Peggy's!

I Love You Today, Peggy!     Keep trying!

Mary Louise

Wednesday, July 28, 2004


I have not talked with Peggy for a few days.  I left a phone message for her this morning.

I have missed hearing her voice so much that the silence is deafening.

There are many things that I miss about Peggy.

I miss her wonderful sense of humor, her intelligence, her spirit of fun. Most of all, I miss her compassion.

Watching Peggy disappear is also making me disappear in some ways. Her slow removal from my life is leaving a space in my heart that no one else can ever fill.

I wish that she knew this morning, how much I miss her and how much I love her. There is no way that I can let her know those things now and even though I say them to her.... she has forgotten how to process language. Her mind has forgotten how to speak and that is a great loss to the world around her.

My grief about Peggy sits on my shoulder's and goes with me everywhere. I think that I could have some closure if I could sit with her once more... before Alzheimer's took her mind away and tell her how much having her for a sister has meant to me.

I would certainly have the closure that I need if she could look at me with her bright green eyes and wonderful smile and tell me just once more............

 That she loves me too.

I Love You Today, Peggy!

Mary Louise

Saturday, July 24, 2004



              PEGGY'S LIFE CANDLE

I think that the day we are born and draw our first breath, God lights our life candle.

 Our candle burns as we live our lives. The wax of all of our yesterday's run down the side of the candle creating a river of life that runs hot, cools and disappears.

Peggys candle of Life is still burning but the flame is beginning to  flicker.

Alzheimer's Disease is standing by Peggys flame of life and slowly blowing it's icy breath on the flame. Peggy's light is dancing from side to side, trying to stay lit and bright.  

As the days go by...Peggy's flame will be extinguished and Alzheimer's Disease will clap it's hands in victory.

It will take it's crooked finger's and approach Peggys Life candle. If there is still smoke rising from the wick of Peggy's life candle..........

Alzheimer's will smile as it wets it's fingers from it's mouth and taps the wick of Peggys life. There is an instant sizzle that signals another life has been snuffed out by this disease. 

The fire from Peggy's life candle will be........Gone.

Darkness will fill the place where Peggys light was and where.......

 Alzheimer's Disease still lives and extinguishes lives..... one flame at a time.

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

Mary Louise

Tuesday, July 20, 2004




Words by Gus Kahn        Music by Walter Donaldson                  1922

Life is a book that we must study

Some of it's leaves bring a sigh.  There it was written, My Buddy, Peggy

That we must part, You and I.

Nights are long since you went away. I think about you all through the day.

My Buddy

My Buddy

Your Buddy misses you.

I miss your voice, the touch of your hand.

Just long to know that you understand.

My Buddy

My Buddy

Your Buddy misses You!



She is your mirror shining back at you with a world of possibilities.

She is your witness who sees you at your worst and best......

And Loves You Anyway.

She is your partner in crime, your midnight companion.....

Someone who knows when you are smiling...Even in the dark.

She is your teacher, your defense attorney, Your personal press agent, even your shrink.


Somedays, she's the reason you wish that you were an only child!       Barbara Alpert


Your Buddy,

Mary Louise

Friday, July 16, 2004


I just got off the phone with Peggy.

It is difficult to relax on this vacation because she is always on my mind.

Her voice was small and soft today. Almost like a little child who was very shy and not sure who she was talking with or what she should say.

I was a stranger to Peggy this morning. A stranger to my sister...My friend.

 She doesn't remember me but...I remember her.

I was walking on the beach yesterday and thought of the many times that we spent together at the beach.

I thought of the first thing that we would do when we got the beach.  We would fall back in the sand to make sand angels. Leaving a print of ourselves in the sand for other beach walkers to see. Then, we would check every day to see if we were still angels in the sand. Little by little the waves would wash the sand clean and our imprints would be gone. The one whose imprint lasted the longest got to be an angel for a day and do anything that they wanted to do. The fallen, washed away angel had to go along.

Funny how those memories floated through my mind. I haven't thought about the sand angels in years.

So, here I am... a grown woman, walking on a beach in Santa Barbara. In front of people who probably thought that I was crazy, I fell back in the sand and made a sand angel for Peggy. I put her initials at the wing tip just like we used to do.

I made Peggy's angel print and sat looking at it... wondering how long it would last. It was a silly little tribute to her but important for me to do.

I watched as the ocean became Alzheimer's disease and within minutes a wave came and washed Peggy's angel away leaving no sign that she was ever a sand angel on a beach in Santa Barbara.


I know that she was there. 

 Alzheimer's may be washing her away with huge waves but my memories of her and our sand angels will stay with me forever.

I Love You Today, Peggy!

Mary Louise



Thursday, July 15, 2004



I am in Santa Barbara, Ca. I arrived last Sunday and will stay another week.

I have called Peggy every morning, as usual. It is getting harder to talk with her but she still tries.

I told her again this morning that I was in Santa Barbara and it surprises her every day.

Her world is getting smaller and smaller.  It will be sad when my other sister comes tomorrow night for Sister's Week and Peggy will not be with her. Barbara wasn't able to come this sister trip either so B. J. and I will pal around.

We decided to make paper plate faces of Barbara and Peggy and have our picture made with them. Then, all four of us will be in Santa Barbara.  Silly but fun.

I had a small taste of what it might be like to have Alzheimer's.

I was driving home from the grocery store and got lost. I didn't take my cell phone because it was charging and I was comfortable that I knew the way to the store and back home.

 I  drove around for almost an hour trying to find a familiar landmark that would point me in the right direction. I was in unfamiliar territory, driving an unfamiliar car and feeling so lost. One of my wrong turns landed me on the 101 going south with every car and truck the world... whizzing past me at 85 and 95 miles an hour. I was gripping the stearing wheel so hard that my knuckles were white!

I finally  saw a street name that I knew and got off the 101 (vowing never to return during rush hour). I found my way home and when I pulled into the garage, I pucked my lips and went ....Whew!!

I have to wonder if this was what Peggy felt when she could still drive and got lost.

Not being able to a lonely feeling and Peggy cannot find home any more.

She is lost in the freeway of her mind, driving and gripping the stearing wheel, looking for any familiar landmark that will lead her home.

She will continue to drive in the rush hour traffic of her mind for the rest of her life, looking for a familiar street name. Looking for any sign of...HOME!

I Love You Today, Peggy!

Mary Louise

Friday, July 9, 2004


Barbara told me that while she visited, Peggy broke into song several times.

Peggy always had a strong, beautiful singing voice. Alzheimer's has not taken that away from her...Yet.

Barbara said that Peggy sang two songs while she was with her. One was Amazing Grace and she sang it loud with strong conviction and a smile on her face.  


Amazing Grace                                       

"Amazing Grace how sweet the sound...that saved a wretch like me.

I once was lost but now, I'm found...was blind, but now I see.

Twas Grace that taught my heart to fear and grace my fear relieved.

How precious did that grace appear the hour I first believed.

When we've been there ten thousand years, bright shining as the sun. We've no less day's to sing God's praise than when we first begun."

I really think that Peggy still knows, on some level that she is loved by God and by us. Even though she has lost the ability to communicate with us on a conversation level, she can still communicate with song.

The other song that Peggy sang for Barbara while she sat in her chair was...Jesus Loves Me.

I know that Peggy feels God's love for her as she disappears from this world and from all of the people who love her.

Barbara said that her smile was broad as she sang the lyrics to "Jesus Loves Me."             

"Jesus loves me this I know...For the bible tells me so!

Little ones to him belong..They are weak but he is strong.

YES, Jesus Loves Me...

YES, Jesus Loves Me!

YES, Jesus Loves Me..

For the bible tells me so.

Jesus loves me, He will stay...Close be side me all the day.

When it's time for me to die..He will take me home on high.

YES, Jesus Loves Me...

YES, Jesus Loves Me.

YES, Jesus Loves Me!

For the bible tells me so!"

After she sang the songs, Barbara said that Peggy retreated into silence again and mumbled to the people in her head.

Peggy is not afraid..I'm thankful for that.

I take some comfort in knowing that even though her mind is disappearing...Her faith and conviction are still there...Her smile is still there when she sings.

Alzheimer's disease is a cruel fate but it cannot take away the song in Peggy's heart.

I Love You Today, Peggy!

Mary Louise

Thursday, July 8, 2004


Sometimes...My heart is so full that I write...write...write!

Sometimes, My heart is so full...That there are NO words!

That is where I have found myself this week. Full of words but with no access to them. No way to write my feelings on paper.

My sisters, Betty Jean and Barbara spent the past few days visiting with Peggy.

Their reports, several times a day were not good. I knew by my daily phone calls to Peggy that she was getting worse but to hear it for real was difficult to process.

My heart has been heavy. My words concerning Peggy stayed inside my head, roaming around, trying to find a home in my soul.

 I felt like I was watching the fireworks on the 4th of July again.

One after another the fireworks of information exploded in the black sky over my head.      

The colors were brilliant and the sounds were so ear shattering that I could feel the vibration of the explosions in my chest.

Then, there was the last explosion of color, that last call from Betty Jean and Barbara as they left Peggy to go home. The sound and sight of the last rocket of information exploded and faded away leaving a black sky and silence.

The silence was deafening to my ears, leaving a sadness that I could not express. 

Some of the news about Peggy made me laugh and some of the news filled my heart so much... that there were no words to express how hard it is as I continue to...

Watch My Sister...Disappear.

I Love You Today, Peggy!

Mary Louise

Saturday, July 3, 2004


EVERYWHERE  I  AM  ( Liberties takes)

When we think back on these times and the dreams we left behind.

 We'll be glad cause we were blessed to have you in our lives.


 When we look back on these day's...We'll look and see your face.   You were right there for us.  


In our dreams we'll always see you soar above the sky. In our hearts there will always be a place for you for all our lives..We'll keep apart of you with us.And everywhere we are


There you'll be....  


Will you show us how it feel the sky within our reach? And we always will remember all the strength you gave so free.  


Your love made us make it through...We owe so much to you... You were right there for us. You were right there for us.....  


In our dreams we'll always see you soar above the sky. In our hearts there will always be a place for you...For all our lives.... We'll keep a part of you with us and every where we are...                 There You'll Be!  


Peggy, we always saw in you our light..our strength..... And we want to thank you now for all the way's.. You were right there for us.. You were right there for us...  


In our dreams we'll always see you soar above the sky.. In our hearts there will always be a place for you for all our lives....


  Peggy, I'll keep a part of you with me and everywhere I am   THERE YOU'LL BE....  


 I Love You Today, Peggy!  

 Mary Louise

Friday, July 2, 2004



Mother and Daddy holding a 2 week old Peggy.

Mary Louise, Barbara, Betty Jean, Mother holding Peggy.


The Spring of Peggy's life began in Alabama. She was the 4th girl born into our family.

We had such fun in the spring time of our lives. We made mud pies, played jump rope, roller skated and played games. We had a neighborhood of children to play with every day. Growing up, we were each others best friends and each others protectors.

   Barbara, Peggy, Mary Louise in the Springtime of our lives.


The only fear that we had then was the fear of the boogie man and the lady who lived on the next street. She would yell at children if they stepped on her grass.  So, Peggy and I were always careful to stay on the side walk when we walked passed by her house.  This gruff old lady softened when she saw Peggy one day.  When we walked by her house one afternoon, in the spring time of our lives, she was on her porch and invited us to sit with her and drink ice tea. I thought that she might be trying to poison us.  Peggy and I talked about it the night we had drunk the tea. We said an extra..Now I lay me down to sleep that night. We decided that if we didn't die in the night from drinking that tea....Mrs Walker must be a nice lady after all.

Peggy, Barbara, Mary Louise, Mr. Tip in the Spring Time of our Lives.

 In the summer time when we were young, Peggy and I would walk down the street arm and arm. I would place my left leg over her right leg and she would place her right leg over my left leg.  We would walk this way to the corner of our street,singing to the top of our lungs the Fats Domino's song, I'm Walking. 

When it rained and we had to stay inside, Peggy and I put the hardwood floors of our house to good use. We would put on socks and slide around the living room pretending to be elegant ice skaters. When we tired of ice skating, we would get a big towel and pull each other around. The object of this game was to make the rider fall off so that the puller could have a turn riding the towel. We would also spend rainy day's sitting on a pot lid from the kitchen. We would spin each other round and round and then try to get up and walk. If there was no thunder we were allowed to play in the rain. Such wonderful memories of the Spring Time in our lives.   I purposely left out the "go get your own switch off of the bush in the back yard incidences".

SPRING turned into SUMMER. 

We were growing up and known as "The Ross Girls."                 We helped each other get ready for dates, with make up and hair styles and even homework. We all shared one bathroom but there were never any arguments. It was just the way it was at home.    SUMMER PICTURES Peggy            The Ross Girls        Peggy

SUMMER became FALL.....

and we had become grown women with children of our own.      We would talk about the Spring and Summer's of our lives and laugh at some of the things that we did.  We were happy to be in the Fall together and looked forward to the grown up Sister's trips that we now took every year.

PICTURES of the FALL of our LIVES.Peggy,MaryLouise,Barbara,Mother,BettyJean  Peggy, Mary Louise, Barbara, Betty Jean ...Mother watching over all of us.

Peggy,Barbara   Peggy        MaryLouise Sister's! MaryLouise,BettyJean,Peggy                 

Three of us are still in the Fall of our lives but Peggy has slipped into the freezing cold and ice of winter time.  


We all miss Peggy because she has disappeared into............... The Winter Of Alzheimer's Disease.....

We all grieve because Peggy doesn't remember the Spring's, Summer's and Fall's that we shared.... as...    

"The Ross Girls."    

 I Love You Today, Peggy!  

Mary Louise