Friday, May 20, 2005


We have five floor to ceiling windows in our kitchen and they face west.

Cleaning them is a major task. I do it about three times a year, inside and out.  I usually clean them in the morning before the afternoon sun comes streaming through.

It is hard work and I am always glad when the job is finished. Then, I can look into my backyard with clear vision.

But, it never fails that when the afternoon sun comes shining through...................

No matter how hard I work on those windows, there are always fingerprints left behind. They show up with the afternoon sun and seem to be permanently imprinted on the glass and no amount of work can clear them.

The sun shinging through the windows brings the tiny fingerprints of my children to life again. As well as the handprints of the adults who stood at the windows looking at the waterfall and pool.

 I am never upset when the fingerprints show up because it makes me smile when I see them. It reminds me that the people in my world stay with me in the kitchen and they arrive every afternoon with the setting sun.

This is how Peggy being apart of my life, has affected me.

No matter how clean my life becomes. No matter how clean my brain and heart feel.....

Every time the afternoon sun of happiness and laughter stream into my life, Peggy's fingerprints can be seen all over my heart and mind.

She has touched my soul with her wit, charm, intelligence and beauty and left indelible hand and fingerprints on my life.

Alzheimer's disease has tried to wipe her fingerprints from the glass of my life but it cannot.

Her hand and fingerprints are indelibly printed there and will always stay.

As long as there is sunshine and light in my heart, every afternoon with the setting sun.....

Peggy's hand and finger prints will shine brightly as I live my life!

Her hand guides my hand as I write about her indelible fingerprints in this journal.  

The Fingerprints of Peggy....

Her lasting expression of the love, the love of one sister for another.

I Love You Today, Peggy!

Mary Louise

Wednesday, May 18, 2005


Peggy didn't want to talk today. Why should she? She has no memories to share and is listening to a stranger talk about things that she can't remember.

She will be going to an Alzheimer's facility soon for two days a week.

I think that it will be good for her to have more to do than sit in a chair and watch television all day.

I miss her so much and wish, deep down, that she missed me a little.

I awoke yesterday morning in a panic. I dreamed that I couldn't remember my son's childhood. It took a few minutes and deep breaths before I was able to calm down.

That is the major difference between Peggy and me.

She doesn't panic because she doesn't remember. She appears calm in her blank world while my world swirls like a tornado in my head. 

I have dreams about forgetting my life and I have a recurring dream about Peggy.

I am in a beautiful green field with rolling hills. The sun is shining and the sky is a brilliant blue. I am walking through the field and stooping to touch and smell the flowers that lay like a carpet under my feet.

While smelling a flower, I see a dot on the hill in the distance. I keep looking at the dot and notice that it is getting larger. I stand up with a flower in my hand and watch as the dot becomes a person.

Then, the person comes into focus and I realize that it is Peggy. She is running toward me and I drop the flower and start running toward her. As she gets closer, I see that she is crying and I run faster to meet her.

We meet in the middle of the field and her face is contorted in pain. She is crying so hard that she cannot speak and her mascara is running down her face.

She is mouthing the words, Mary Louise, help me, help me!

I reach for her but my hand hits a plate of glass and I cannot get to her. The glass divides the field down the middle and as hard as I try...I cannot get over, under or around it. I cannot get to Peggy and I panic because I can see that she needs me.

I realize that I cannot get through the glass to comfort her in her grief and pain.

I place both if my hands on the glass and mouth the words, I love you, Peggy.

Still crying, she places her hands on mine and we stand there, together but miles apart.

Alzheimer's is the glass between us and there is no possible way to get to her or to help her.

All I can do is keep my hands on the glass covering her hands and say to her.......

I Love You Today, Peggy and I won't leave you in this field alone.

Lisa Lorden pinned these words.

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.....

I will continue to catch Peggy's tears while pressing my hands over hers.......... on the glass that separates us.

The glass devide called.......

 Alzheimer's Disease.

I Love You Today, Peggy!

Mary Louise

Saturday, May 14, 2005


There were bad storms last night in my corner of the world.


The wind was blowing and the trees were bowing as the force of the wind blew through their branches.

Lightening streaked through the black night sky and crackled as it turned night into day for seconds at a time.

I could hear the thunder rumbling in the distance and slowly get louder until there was a bloom that shook the windows in my house.

When I was a little girl and experienced a thunderstorm, I would think that God was moving furniture around in heaven and lightening was God turning off and on the lights. Sometimes, I would think that God was in the heavenly bowling alley and the thunder occurred when he rolled the ball down the lane to strike giant pins. When the ball hit the pins, it made the lightening.

Remembering all of this, I decided that it was time to go to the basement.

 To feel safe, I took a flashlight, a gallon of water, my little dog and fled down the stairs. Under ground, the sounds were not as big and didn't assault my ears. Underground, I couldn't see the flashes of lightening and the rolling thunder was muffled.

I felt very small as I watched the force of nature enter my world but in my safe place, under ground, I felt that I had some control over my fate.

I thought of a song that we used to sing in church when I was a little girl.

"Till the storm passes over, till the thunder rolls no more. Till the clouds roll forever from the sky. Keep me safe, let me stand in the hollow of your hand. Keep me safe until the storm passes by."

Alzheimer's disease entered Peggy's life like the horrific storm last evening.

There were signs that the storm was approaching but it came so quickly that Peggy could not find a safe place to hide. There was no place for her to go as the wind, lightening and thunder of the disease entered her brain.

It is as if she was standing in the middle of a field when the Alzheimer's storm blew into her body. The lightening, wind and thunder assaulted her body and brain with such force that all she could do was fall to the ground and assume the fetal position.

The storm still rages inside of Peggy. The lightening of the disease strikes her body and brain and hurricane force winds blow her thoughts and memories from her mind.   

The only safe place for Peggy now is in the love that surrounds her as she continues to disappear.

I watch my sister being destroyed by Alzheimer's disease and all I can do is hold her hand and sing.....

"Till the storm passes over and the thunder sounds no more. Till the clouds roll forever from the sky....

Keep Peggy safe, let her stand, in the hollow of your hand.

Keep Peggy safe until the storm passes by.......

I Love You Today, Peggy!

Mary Louise




Wednesday, May 11, 2005


I collect sand.

I have sand samples from beaches all over the world. They are displayed in glass jars on a shelf in my home.

It is amazing how different the samples appear from the beaches of the world and yet...they have something in common because they are all sand. 

The colors of the sand range from pink to black, white to gray, course to fine and from rocks to pebbles.

I think that the grieving process is a lot like the sand from the different beaches of the world.

No one grieves in exactly the same way. There are steps to the grieving process but we all experience the process differently.

The way that I am experiencing the grief over watching Peggy disappear is not the same as the grief of other family members who are doing the same.

It does not make my grief greater or deeper than theirs in any way. It is my personal way of grieving that I have tailored because of my experiences. We all have different life experiences just like there are differences in the sand.

I watched the funeral of President Regan and felt intense grief. Not because I knew him personally but because I have a life experience with  the devastation of Alzheimer's disease. I had a connection to the grief of Mrs Regan but nowhere near the same level of grief that she was experiencing.

Just like the grains of sand...grief is different and experienced on different levels for different people. It depends on the life experiences we have had and our ability to put ourselves in another persons place. It depends on our life experiences with the person that we are losing or have lost.

Just remember, when you are watching or experiencing grief that we all grieve in our own personal way. One way is not the best way.

In an emergency room, when families are given bad news, the reactions of family members cover a wide range of emotion. Some will pass out while other will simply stare at the floor. Some will scream while doing a dance of grief while others will sit and silently cry.

Just like the grains of sand... we are different in our grief and yet we are all the same because we all grieve.

I see life in pictures in my mind and I see Peggy's life slipping away. She is silently slipping away like the grains of sand sliding from the top of a hourglass to the bottom.

And I grieve by writing my grief as I continue to.........

 Watch my Sister slide,  like the grains of sand from the top of the hourglass of life to the bottom and silently.... Disappear.

I Love You Today, Peggy!

Mary Louise

Monday, May 9, 2005


I called Peggy yesterday and wished her a happy Mother's Day. I know that she doesn't remember what Mother's day is any longer but I wanted to wish her a happy day...just in case somewhere in her soul, she remembers.

I still cannot believe that this has happened to her. Why Peggy, still so young and so much to live for and appreciate?

Peggy's development of Alzheimer's has helped me grow and has changed me in many ways.

My husband and I have an anniversary coming up and for years we had said that we would go on a cruise. We said that we would book a cruise in the future and on a big anniversary date.

We will be sailing on May 28th, 2005. It is not a big anniversary date but because of what has happened to Peggy, we decided to go now and not wait.

 We decided that now was the right time. Now, when we are both healthy and happy. And if one day, one of us is not around on an anniversary, a big number anniversary...the other can remember this cruise and smile at the memories. The memories of why we chose a small anniversary date to go on a expensive cruise.

Peggy's illness has helped to put the priorities of my life in order. I had always heard the saying that one should not put off until tomorrow what one can do today. But, I was in a pattern of putting things off until a better day, until a day when everything was perfect or there was a big reason to celebrate.

I have learned that we must not put off plans and dreams for a later day. That day may never come and our dreams might fade away.

This cruise, on an anniversary that is not a "big one" is because of what has happened in Peggy's life.

Peggy continues to reach out and teach me from the darkness of Alzheimer's disease.

She has taught me to live for today, enjoy the people in my life while they are here. She has taught me to tell the people in my life that I love that I love them ... every day.

She has taught me to enjoy the small things like blue skies and birds singing. The smell of freshly cut grass and the beauty of a flower.

She has taught me to be glad that I know what a chair, table or other objects are and to be thankful that I can call them by name.

She has taught me to enjoy every aspect of my life and take nothing for granted.

She has taught me that there are no guaranties in life, just the reality of right now, this minute, this hour.

She has taught me how much I can still love someone who is here but at the same time..they are not here. Peggy has taught me how very much I can love someone who doesn't remember who I am  and cannot say my name.

She has taught me to take a cruise on a "not so big" anniversary date and not wait for a special number that makes it alright to celebrate big.

When Peggy forgot who I was, I thought my heart would break did!

But I have found that through her illness Peggy is helping to find the broken pieces of my heart and she is helping to put the pieces of my heart back together again by teaching me how to live today.

Peggy had so many plans for the future but that future ended as Alzheimer's took over her mind.  The disease came out of the blue and Peggy's plan for future left in a puff of blue smoke.

Peggy is teaching me how to live my life from the dark depths of Alzheimer's disease.  I am continuing to understand how to live  better because of her disease.....And now, watching her life disappear...I finally get it!

Thank you and....

I Love You Today, Peggy!

Mary Louise


Thursday, May 5, 2005


Mother's Day Memories of Mother and Home!

Birmingham, Alabama

Mary Louise, Mother holding Johnny, Barbara, Peggy

Betty Jean is taking the picture.

Wednesday, May 4, 2005


I visited the city where I grew up recently and decided to go back to my old neighborhood. I wanted to see the house where I was raised. I wanted to see the street where Peggy and I played. I wanted to feel the joy of my youth while standing on our old front porch and remembering.

I did stand on my old front porch but it wasn't the same. It wasn't the same because the house that I called home was falling apart. The windows had been broken out, the roof was falling in and weeds have taken the place of a manicured lawn.

This was the way that I found my old neighborhood. Sad, deteriorated and abandoned by the people who loved this street and had pride in their houses.

No one lives with pride on this once pretty street anymore. It is now a street with broken houses and broken dreams.

I cried when I looked at my old neighborhood.  I choked back tears as I looked at my childhood home because the bricks were falling off of it and the paint was cracked and crumbled around the front door. The windows had been broken out and it was obvious that this house was not loved any longer. No one seemed to loved this street any more, only my memories.

 I stood on my old front porch at 1805 and my mind took me to a time when there were people who loved and cared for these houses.  They took pride in this neighborhood and called St. Charles Court their home.

 I looked up and down this broken street and my mind remembered a time when beautiful green lawns surrounded these houses. A time when hanging baskets, full of colorful flowers swayed from hooks on the front porches.

I  wandered back to the time when there was a swing set in our back yard where Peggy and I shouted in play. I looked down the street and remembered the Summers that we ran up and down on the hot pavement, bare footed.

There was a time in this deteriorated neighborhood, that people sat on their front porches in the evening, sipping lemonade and waving to people as they walked by on warm summer nights.

This now forsaken neighborhood was a wonderful place to live....once upon a time.

Just like Peggy's mind was a wonderful place to live...once upon a time.

Alzheimer's disease attacked her brain the way blight attacks a neighborhood and she cannot live in her body and mind much longer.

She can no longer live on the street or in the neighborhood that was.... her life.

The deterioration of Peggy's mind started slowly. Just like a neighborhood deteriorates slowly as one family after another moves away and no one moves back to care for the houses.

Alzheimer's disease causes memories and thoughts that are in the brain to move out, one thought and memory at a time.             

The mind becomes a neighborhood where no one can live.

The Alzheimer's patient becomes as broken and silent as the houses on a deserted, abandoned street.

This is what is happening to Peggy.

The Peggy that was... is deteriorating just like a neighborhood where we used to live. Her brain has been covered with masses of choking vines and the windows of her soul are broken out by the rocks that Alzheimer's throws at her brain daily.

Peggy's thought processes are being destroyed and the brain that held her thoughts and memories has become a deserted street.       A street where there is no past and there will never be a future. There are only broken dreams and broken hearts for those of us who walk down the street where Peggy lived and remember the person that she used to be..

The old Peggy, does not live on the street where I live any longer. Alzheimer's disease is tearing down her house a little every day.

The old Peggy can only live in my memories and in my heart. In those places, I can still see the Peggy that I knew. The Peggy that loved walking, laughing and enjoying life.

She will live in my mind as she was before Alzheimer's disease.

In the neighborhood of my mind, Peggy is still Peggy...whole and bright. She lives in a big house with a manicured lawn. She has beautiful flowers surrounding her house and a swing set in the back yard. She sits on her front porch and waves to me as I walk pass the house that was her life.

Peggy lives whole, well and my heart.

Alzheimer's disease has taken Peggy away from her life but it will never take the Peggy that I knew away from mylife or away from the neighborhood in my mind

She will always be happy and safe in the memories of our neighborhood and growing up at 1805 St. Charles Court.

I Love You Today, Peggy!

Mary Louise