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


mosie1944 said...

Thanks for sharing your heartbreak, as well as your happy memories, with us.

wendy4145 said...

My Mohter in law, Cruce Cicio grew up in NORWOOD Alabama.  She feels the same way when she used to visit her old neighborhood.  she tells me with joy that that used to be the hot spot and the nicest place.

Cruce lost her sister in March.  It was a shock, unlike alzhimers.  but she hasn't been able to find any strengh to deal with it yet.  Aunt Concetta was 67 years old.  2 years older than Cruce.  Now Cruce is the only one left in her family "besides her kids" .  She lost her brother to leukemia 5 years ago.. he was 67 yeaars old too.  now we are losing our brother in law "Cruce's son in law"  Danny Richardson to a slow and agonizing death to lung cancer that has spread to his brain twice  after they were able to rid him of it with chemo / radiation.....  I wish  pir dear froemd amd in law, Danny,  wasn't aware of what he is going through.... he'd be better off.  I wish peggy and other's with alzhimers never had to know that they had the disease.....

 I feel your pain as i feel my own today about our dear brother in law  and friend "Danny".  We got the news Sunday... that he can quit the treatment when he is ready....the tumors keep coming back.

I wish Cruce and you could take both of your sisters back to norwood and Saint Chales street and be as you once were... but i guess those things only happen in heaven.  i guess there are worse things than dying...

forgive me if i said too much.

deabvt said...

{{{ Hugs }}}

kiramekinotsuki said...

All of your entries about Peggy have moved me so much. My grandma has Alzheimers  as well and your words touch me in ways I can't begin to explain. Your writing is beautiful and reading it really helps me deal with what I'm going through because I'm not very good at expressing what I'm feeling at all. Most of the time all of my emotions about the situation are just jumbled thoughts and feelings. It all seems overwhelming at times and it's really hard to sort out. You help me sort those things out through your words.

It's so hard for me to see my grandma the way she is now. She never speaks anymore. It's painful to go through old pictures and look back on when she was such a lively, happy woman. It feels like she's just been taken away from me, you know?

I admire you and the strength that you have during these times. It hurts me so much to see my grandma the way she is and because of that I only see her about once a week now, but after reading all of your entries you've inspired me to change that.

In a past entry of yours you mentioned that Peggy would sometimes chime in on conversations, saying only 1 or 2 words and then going back into her darkness. My grandma does that. Sometimes she says the silliest things. She'll hear my mom talking and she'll say something to the likes of "I'm gonna spank you!", it really lightens up the mood and gives me a good laugh. It's nice that in situations this troubling there is always something to smile about.  I really love her and I miss her so much.

Thank you for writing such beautiful words and I wish the best for you.

mslambersfour said...

Hey Mom...  
You know... while I was reading this today... I started bringning up my own memories of going to Memaw & Papaw's house on St Charles Court...  the same beautiful green grass...  kids runiing up and down the sidewalk... digging for coal in the backyard... and waiting for the vegetable bus with the small bottles of Coke.  

I think Peggy seems to be sitting on the porch with me... waiting for the vegetable bus... to smell the wonderful fresh vegetables and fruit... to get new small bottles of coke and to go all the way to the back of the bus to see what candy I could buy!  
Somehow I think Peggy is on the porch too....  Waiting for the vegetable bus to arrive... only in her mind... the bus never comes.  And she misses the chance to take in the aromas of the fresh memories... and to salivate and save new pieces of candied experiences in the back of the recesses of her mind.  That truck carries all her future expereinces and past memories... if only it would stop one last time... to let her on... and she could share in the wonder.
I love you today, and tomorrow and forever mom!  Love, Melissa

smjr43 said...

What a wonderful tribute to your sister!  She is a very blessed young lady to have such a wonderful sister as you, Mary Louise.  I spent several hours in your photo journal today.  You have an awesome talent for both photos and words.  God Bless You!