Monday, February 7, 2005


Peggy is having a birthday on February 13th.

I spent almost an hour in a card shop trying to find an appropriate  birthday card to send to her.

I read many cards and wiped the tears away as they pooled in my eyes. I noticed that people were looking at me but no one approached or asked me what was wrong. I felt foolish as I read the cards and cried but my tears had a mind of their own.

What kind of a birthday card does one buy for a sister that doesn't remember that we are sisters. What kind of a birthday card does one buy for a sister who doesn't remember what a birthday is any longer?

All of the cards said things like....

Sister, do you remember when we were little and had so much fun? 


I'd like to talk on your special day and laugh like we used to do.


I'm glad that we are sisters and still share so much.


I read the cards and replaced each of them and then picked up another card to read.  

There were no cards that I felt were appropriate for Peggy.

I found myself getting a little cynical and thought of a card line for loved ones who are dying.

Cards that would say...

So sorry that you are dying but have a Happy Birthday anyway. 


Happy Birthday, I wish you remembered what a birthday is but have a ball on your day!

Have a happy birthday even though you have forgotten that I am your sister.

Happy Birthday from your sister, I wish you remembered what a sister is but since you don't... Have a great day anyway! 

Birthday wishes from the stranger that calls you every day.

Sorry that you don't remember your life but celebrate your birthday in style!

Too bad that you have Alzheimer's disease but hope you have a Great Birthday anyway!


Thinking those thoughts was the only way that I could deal with the sweetness of all the sister cards that I read.

I would cry reading a card and then think of what the card might say if it were my new line of "sorry your dying" cards.  I couldn't help but smile when I would think of what a card might say from my cynical card line. 

I realize that it was just a way to deal with the grief that I was feeling while reading the birthday cards for sisters.

I know that the people in the card shop thought I had gone a little over the edge. Actually, I was holding on to the edge with my fingernails.

What was interesting is that no one, in the hour that I was there reached out to me. Every one went about their business while tears ran down my face. It would have felt wonderful if someone had cared enough to ask about my tears. I think that most people didn't want to interrupt me or just didn't know what to say.

If you are ever in a card shop and see someone crying while reading cards. Please take the time to say hello. You don't need to say anything brillant......just hand them a kleenex and ask if they need anything. Chances are that they will say, no but your taking the time to reach out to them will help more than you know.

I wasn't alright while I tried to find a birthday card to send to my sister who continues to disappear from my life.

I did finally find a card for Peggy that read.......


Sometimes it takes years to understand what having a sister is all about.

When we were younger, you were  "just my little sister".

But now, I truly appreciate the special person you are...

And I realize just how much having you for a sister means to me.


It makes me sad that Peggy will not understand what the card says or that it is from me but.....

Happy Birthday, Peggy.

I hope that next year I will still get the chance to buy you another card. I hope that I will have another birthday to celebrate for you.

I remember, Peggy. Yes, I remember.

I remember the day you were born and I remember your birthday's.  I remember so many of your birthdays with smiles, birthday cakes, candles and fun.

I am sad that you have forgotten your birthday but I remember and...

That's what a big sister does.....

She remembers for you when you have forgotten.

Peggy, I know that chance made us sisters but our hearts made us friends and I miss you, my friend.

So happy birthday to my forever friend from your sister.

A sister that will always remember..... for you.

I Love You Today!

Mary Louise




barbpinion said...

This entry made me so sad. I have four sisters and can only imagine how I'd feel if I were going through this. This is one of those times I can't find a word to say. Hugs, and prayers, always. *Barb*

sanforized6 said...

I'm speechless. So sad. So beautiful your thoughts. rich

memkynme said...

I know how you feel ....It saddens me to know that you were there in that card shop and crying alone ....... I am a person who never meets a stranger I'm told and have went up or just kind of made eye contact with a stranger in different crisis ... I love to give Hugs and I'm tucking another in this for U ! God Bless and Peg may not know or understand the beauiful card you chose for her But one day she will I Pray... Lord Hear My Prayer .
Thanks for sharing your love story of a Sister !

marymnbob said...

Mary Louise, my heart is so full right now. Mom had a birthday in Nov. and then there was Christmas, I had no idea what to do. I carried her a throw to lay across her lap when she was cool. I can't even look at the cards right now. Like you said, not only would i feel foolish for the tears, but no-one would seem to care.
If the picture I saw is of Peggy, she is beautiful, as I'm sure she is on the inside.
God Bless you Dear,   Marymnbob

wendy4145 said...

I definately would speak to someone crying in a shop.....  I have before and it wasn't a mistake.  I knew the person appreciated my care, even though i was a perfect stranger.  It is a care for mankind that should stand by and support folks in an upsetting situation... like the people who stop and help someone on the side of the road in a wreck.  You were facing a painful wreck in your life... and i am sure you needed a nudge of "hey, we are all in this life together"  some days are hard, you are not alone...." i am just sorry that NO one even asked you if you were ok.  No one wanted to be told what was upsetting you?  I am sorry to hear that you went through that virtually alone.  You were surrounded by people... but you felt alone.  The good news is that you weren't alone.  All of us, your family and God, even the part of Peggy that is able to be wiht you, we were al there and are there with you now.

stay strong or, be weak if you feel like it....

we are proud of you anyway.

caragricke said...

Yes, I remember Peggy and her birthdays.  Beautifully written.  I wish I could have been with you when you were looking for a birthday card for Peg.  With much love ... your sister, Barbara

motoxmom72 said...

Mary Louise....your journal entries are so wonderfully written.  I worked in Long Term care for almost 9 years.  Taking care of those with Alzheimer's is so tough. The families' stories haunt me.  I can't imagine what it would be like to live with someone close to me that has to suffer through it.  I realize through your entries how families also suffer so much while watching them disappear. My prayers are with you and your family.  I too am celebrating another year older this Saturday the 12th.  I'll put an extra candle on the cake and make a special wish for Peggy.  If only there was a wish that could wipe away hurt, anguish, sadness and illnesses that take our loved ones away.......


dimundntheruf69 said...

Mary Louise, Today is my Mama's birthday...and every single year we are worried it may be the last because she is terminally ill with emphysema, heart disease and a whole slew of other illnesses....I saw her yesterday for a little while...we each (my kids and I) gave her a gift , a kiss and a hug and told her we love, I sent her something from the florist....all I can do is love her while I have her and let her go when God calls her back home....I believe that in late adulthood, most times we revert to childhood and think like we did as a child, so Peggy probably would just love any card that is brightly colored and fun to look at....and for you....a hug from all of us in my house.....