Monday, March 21, 2005


My sisters, Betty Jean and Barbara visited with Peggy on Saturday.

They called me to tell me about the day. They said that Peggy didn't seem to know who they were.

Betty Jean said that Peggy smiled when she saw her. Barbara said that Peggy became stiff when she hugged her and froze up when she tried to talk with her.

They were not sure why there was such a difference.

They also said that Peggy tried to join the conversation while they were talking by nodding her head and using yes and O K.  She is still trying hard and hoping that no one sees that she is different.

I wonder what she thought when she saw her sisters?  Sisters that have been a part of her life since she was born.                         I guess we will never know.

It brings to mind the saying "the lights are on but no one is home".

The power source that lit Peggy's mind and body is being turned off, one brain line circuit at a time.

There are times when the power that runs to my home is interrupted and the house will go dark.

It is a frustrating feeling as I look for candles and flash lights to light my way through the darkness of my house.

The normal things that I do every day are interrupted.  I cannot plug anything into an outlet and have it work.

The television is black, the kitchen appliances won't work and anything that takes power from the lines that run my house are useless.

Sometimes, the power will try to come back on and there will be a flicker of light for a second and then the house will go dark again.

I am aware, when the power is absent,  how very quiet the house becomes. There is no humming from appliances or sounds from radios or televisions. There is only quiet.

This is what I think having Alzheimer's disease would be like on a daily basis.

The power that runs to the brain is interrupted. There is in a sense, a power black out, an interruption of power to run the brain and to run the body.

There are times when there is a power surge and the lights in Peggy's brain will flicker with recognition. It does not last and the power is shut down again leaving darkness and quietness in her brain.

Alzheimer's disease interrupts the power that runs to the brain and the power lines that connect the brain lie jumbled on the ground. 

It is not our fault when the power that runs our home is shut down and it is not Peggy's fault that the power that runs her brain is broken and tangled, lying on the ground.

Peggy's power source is Alzheimer's disease now and it provides and shuts down the power that runs her brain. It also shuts down the brain circuits at will.

To live with Alzheimer's disease is to live with a faulty power company. A power company that will not send trucks to restore the power to her brain when the power is interrupted.

To watch my sister live with Alzheimer's disease is like standing on the outside of her house in the freezing cold, knowing that the power to her brain is being shut down. Standing there in her darkness and living with the knowledge that I cannot bring candles or flash lights into her brain to light her way. I can only watch as the light that was Peggy goes dark.

To watch my sister's life go dark from Alzheimer's disease is knowing that I cannot find my way through her darkness to brightened her mind.

To watch my sister disappear from Alzheimer's disease is watching the lights in her brain flicker and go out one at a time.

In real life, we can purchase a generator to light our homes when the power goes off.

In the life of an Alzheimer's patient...

Generators are not permitted.

So, I watch Peggy's lights flicker and die and I can appreciate the lights while they are still flickering. Never knowing when the lights will go out for good.

I am thankful that I can still see the flickering lights as I continue to watch Peggy disappear.

I know that the day is fast approaching when her lights inside of her brain will go dark and the light that was Peggy will be a memory.

Alzheimer's is winning and shutting down the power to Peggy's brain but...

Until the day that her light goes out for good....

I will keep my fashlight and candles handy...Just in case she has a power surge and remembers who I am one day when I call and say, Hey, Peggy...This is Mary Louise and she says....I Know! 

I Love You Today, Peggy!

Mary Louise


sanforized6 said...

Another beautiful analogy. rich

dimundntheruf69 said...

awesome analogy...please keep my Grandmother in your prayers...she has alzheimer's and she fell the day before yesterday and has broken her hip and will be having surgery...thank you...christie

wendy4145 said...

yes... sweet sister, standing by with her flashlight, just like being at her bedside every time she wakes.


barbpinion said...

I'm so sorry for your pain; for the many tears you and your family cry. I'm praying for all of you. Love. *Barb*

eromagnolo said...

I'm so sorry for Peggy, you and your family. My sister was 20 years older then me.  In athe beginning they said, she had Alzheimer's. She kept telling me she did not. She was right she had brain cancer. The next 9 months the light slow went out like a candle going down to the end. That was 4 years ago this May. I'm lonely I understand some how but it dose not change the way I feel. I'm sending you prayers and hugs. I no your pain.

s0ngbird1962 said...

I used to think power outages were somewhat exciting.  Tend to bring the family closer, even if for just an hour or so.  You sound like an incredibly close family, but perhaps Peggy's Alzheimers will bring you all even closer together, more than just an hour though, but for a life time.

Maybe even though her lights are now dim, maybe, just maybe she can dream of you all with the lights brightly on.  

dornbrau said...

I met a wonderful man well after the bonds of Alzheimers had taken hold of him.  I hear he once was brilliant, a rocket scientist... literally!  I was with him once when he was able to break through for a very brief moment and I caught a glimpse of the man he used to be.  It was a glorious sight.  Sadly his wife was already bitter from the toll the disease had taken on her and she missed it.  Your Peggy is in there, she just doesn't know it.  I'm just so happy for her that she has sisters like you and your sisters who care so deeply.  I hope you are there when she manages to peek out.