Thursday, June 23, 2005


I will be leaving tomorrow for our Sister's trip.

I will continue to call Peggy while I am away and we will all talk to her.

She would be the first one to say, Go and have a great time together.

We will have fun together but there will be a huge empty space where Peggy used to be.

We Love You Today, Peggy!

Mary Louise, Betty Jean and Barbara

Tuesday, June 21, 2005


Peggy was having a hard time understanding me this morning.

She didn't say hello when she took the phone but I could hear her breathing.

I asked her if she was OK and she answered....What?

I told her that I loved her today and her answer was...Thanks.        It occurred to me that she was thanking someone who was a stranger to her for caring about her.

I wish that I knew what is going on in her mind and what she is thinking when we talk on the phone.

I asked her if she was OK today and she said; yes.

Her answers to most of my questions was...What or yes.             She  remembers those words but one day, she will forget them too.

I started to hang up and I said; Peggy, I miss you.


I miss you, Peggy. I miss you so much! 

She didn't say anything.

 I will call you again tomorrow, Peggy.

She never answered but I knew that she was still listening.

I didn't need to say anything else to her but that I loved her today.

In her silence I heard all the echo's from our past years as sisters.

Sometimes, words are not needed someone is listening to you with their heart but just can't remember how to respond.

I thought of this quote from Longfellow after my call to her.

"Give what you have to someone. It may be better than you dare to think".

Maybe, my call to her today was better than I dare to think. I hope that she can still understand the love in my voice though she has forgotten who I am.

Like I have said before. Peggy and I are cut from the same fabric and the thread that holds us together cannot be broken by people, years or distance and certainly not by...

Alzheimer's disease.

I Love You Today, Peggy!

Mary Louise

Friday, June 17, 2005


There were five children in our family, four girls and one boy.

The four girl's of our family were known in the area and at school as "The Ross Girls".

After we all left home, we would meet at Mother and Daddy's for a week in the summer and a week at Christmas time.

We didn't call it Sister's week back then, it was just a time when the five of us could be together. There would be long talks around the kitchen table with Mother and Daddy and the sound of high heels clicking on the wood floors once again.

We didn't leave our brother out. He just thought that a week of giggling, hormones and chatter was more than he could take so he drifted in and out during our time at home.

After our children came along, we spent our week at home changing diapers and listening to the tips on raising children from our Mother.

There was no money in our budgets at that time for trips anywhere but home.

Home was where we all wanted to be. It was our safe place.

I have thought about those times a lot and can go backward in my mind to those days. I can see Mother's smile and smell all of the smells of home.

I can see Daddy working in the backyard and coming in to wash his hands and arms at the kitchen sink, much to my Mother's dismay.

I can smell the coffee that was always brewing on the stove, summer or winter.

Home was a good place to be and a good place to renew our bond as sister's and brother.

Eventually, we were able to go on weekly trips to each others homes. It was always fun to get together for a week in a different place.

That's when "The Sister's Trip" was born.

After all of our children grew up, we began to take trips to other places.  It was fun to be together and fun to venture out in the world.

We all looked forward to the trip's and planned our Sister's trip all year.


A week together as sister's would always bring those times when we would get "sideways" with one another. When that happened we would say what we thought and move on. We gave each other the space that we needed and the freedom to have our different opinions. We grew up knowing that one only gets angry with people that they trust. We trusted one another enough to speak our minds, but always with respect.

Peggy's last Sister's trip was to my house 7 years ago. Alzheimer's disease had already started and we all noticed the difference in her. She had been diganosed with Epilepsy and was having Monoclonic jerks. We all noticed that she had lost her happy nature and seemed confused a lot of the time.

 It was a sad feeling that next year when we went on our first Sister's trip without her because she was not well enough to go.  We missed her so much and the lack of her presence left a gaping hole in our time together.

The trip was to Colorado Ski country. We stayed in a big house that was a ski out. The week was fun but we all missed having Peggy there. That is when we decided that on every Sister's Trip, we would make sure that Peggy was a part of it, if only in a picture.


That's was our way of including her in our week and we still make sure that Peggy is on every trip in a picture.

( Peggy added).

This year, our Sister's trip will be to beautiful Santa Barbara, California and you can bet that Peggy will be there. She will be right in the middle of our fun, talks, sightseeing and shopping.

She will go to Santa Barbara on our Sister trip next week because we will all take her... in our hearts.

After all, what would a trip be like without Peggy?

She is present in everything that we do as sister's because of the pride that we share as sister's and because....

We are "The Ross Girl's" and.....

We grew up...Ross!

I Love You Today, Peggy!

Mary Louise

Wednesday, June 15, 2005


Peggy has a new sitter and her name is Wanda.

 I introduced myself to her this morning and told her that I call Peggy every day to talk with her. She seemed surprised.

She won't talk to me, Wanda said.

I thought about that and told her that Peggy really doesn't talk to me either but she does listen.

I told Wanda to talk with Peggy and know that she may not be able to respond but that she does listen very carefully.

Peggy took the phone and said, Hello.

I did what I do every time that I talk to her. I ask her questions and get one word answers that may or may not make sense to me. One word answers are fine with me because... I can still hear her voice.

She still manages to surprise me on some days.

Today, our conversation went like this.......

Hi Peggy, this is Mary Louise, your sister.

OK, was her reply.

Peggy, do you know who I am?

Silence filled my ears.

What are you doing today?


Are you watching television?


Television, are you watching a show?


Do you want to tell me anything?


What do you want to tell me?


How do you like Wanda?

Silence and then she surprised me by saying a whole sentence.

Peggy said, I don't know who Wanda is!

Wanda is the lady who is staying with you today, I said.


Peggy, I Love You, Today!

Good, Thanks.

I'll call you again tomorrow, Peggy.


I'll call tomorrow.


Because I love you and you are my sister.

I know.

Bye Peggy.


You can hang up the phone now.


This went on for several minutes until I slowly hung the phone up.

As I was putting the phone  down, I heard her say....OK.

 My heart crunched.

Today was a gift. Peggy said a sentence.

And Peggy.....Guess what?

I don't know who Wanda is either!

I Love You Today, Peggy!

Mary Louise


Tuesday, June 14, 2005


I was recently on vacation.

While on the trip, I took hundreds of pictures with my digital camera.

I took these photographs so that I wouldn't forget one moment of the trip.

I took the card out of my camera and put it into a device on my computer so that I could transfer all of the pictures to a folder and save them.

After the photographs were up loaded to a folder named "Vacation memories 2005", I was asked this question by the computer program that I was using.

Delete all of the pictures on the card?

I hesitated because I knew that if I said yes, all of the pictures on the card would be erased forever.

While it was true that I had them in a folder on the computer, I still found that I didn't want to erase them from the card. I thought, what if...All of the stored pictures on my computer were accidentally erased?

What if I decide to get prints?

My mind went through a litany of... what if's.

I knew that if I wanted to use the card again, I would have to erase the photo's and so I did.

I watched as the cherished pictures were erased one at a time. Finally, the card was clean of all of my vacation memories. They were gone forever from that card.

This is what Alzheimer's is doing to Peggy's mind. It has erased all of the pictures of her life, one picture at a time.

There is no folder in her mind where her life pictures are saved.

Alzheimer's disease clicked on the computer button of her brain and erased every single picture that she had stored there.

There is no way to get her pictures back. They are gone forever and she can never use the card again to record her memories.

This disease is not only erasing the pictures of her mind but it is also erasing her life.

It will eventually shut down all of her bodily functions, one at a time.

She will forget how to eat and she will eventually forget how to breathe.

With one click years ago, Alzheimer's decided that Peggy didn't need to save the pictures of her life. She didn't need to store them and remember the wonderful times of her life.

It also decided that Peggy didn't need to be at all.........

Alzheimer's disease has been taking it's cold finger and clicking on...Delete all of the pictures of Peggy's mind. 

It is waiting for a day in the future to click on the box that says...Are you sure you want to eraseall of the pictures?

At that time, Alzheimer's will take it's finger and move the mouse over the box that say's...Yes.

With one click, it will erase all of her pictures and it will successfully...

Erase the person that was Peggy!

Then, it will be finished and Alzheimer's will push back from the computer that it controls and smile!

The disease thinks that it has won but it never counted on all of the people who love Peggy and have stored the pictures of her life in a special, safe folder where they can never be erased.

A folder that is titled.....

Peggy's life in memories and pictures.

I Love You Today, Peggy!

Mary Louise

Saturday, June 11, 2005


It is interesting how my feelings can spill out in the written word but then, there are the times when my feeling want to stay safe inside of my mind.

This is one of the times that I cannot seem to write my feelings into words.

Peggy is alot worse and I am still sorting through a range of emotions.

It might be easier if she was just an aquaintance but she is a part of who I was and who I am today.

"We are more than aquaintances for we are cut from the same fabric.

Even though we were sewn in different patterns, we share a single thread that cannot be broken....

By people, by years or by distance".  ( Author Unknown)

 or by.....................

Alzheimer's Disease.

I miss you, Peggy and I Love You Today!

Mary Louise

Thursday, June 9, 2005


My husband and I were on a cruise last week.

There was a television in the stateroom and a balcony where I could sit and watch the ocean roll by.

There was also a channel on the television where you could track the ship's progress in the Western Caribbean.

On Wednesday evening, while standing on the balcony, I noticed that the sea was getting rough.

The evening sky darkened and the wind whipped my hair in all directions. The sky became very dark and signaled that a storm was approaching

I walked back in the stateroom and turned on the television to the progress of the ship channel.

There, on the screen was the flashing blip that was the ship.

 To the right of the ship was the island of Cuba and to the left was Mexico. In the center, between the two land masses there was a big orange blob. That blob was a storm of considerable size. The ship that I was on is one of the biggest ships afloat and I felt safe even though I knew that there was a storm was in my future.

There was no way for the Captain of our ship to avoid going through the center of this storm.

Life can be like the ship in a storm when someone you love has Alzheimer's disease.

You can see the Alzheimer's storm approaching and there is no place to hide. You must go through the storm and weather the waves that toss your heart around.

The waves of despair come to batter the shores of my soul.

The sky in my mind darkens and leaves me feeling small in the ocean that is Alzheimer's disease.

But there is only one course for my ship and that is...

To continue my ship's course through the middle of Peggy's storm.

There is nothing that I can do to calm the sea where my sister is living.

There is nothing that I can do to stop the waves from crashing around her.

There is nothing that I can do to keep her from drowning in this sea.

What I can do is...

Stand on the bow of my ship with binoculars placed against my eyes and never let her out of my sight.

 My sister will disappear beneath the waves  and stormy skies caused by Alzheimer's disease.  I just pray that my ship will be strong enough to get through this storm with her.

The skies around my ship will lighten and sunshine will shine on the ocean of my life once again but...

I will never forget the storm that caused Peggy to disappear beneath the waves.

I will never forget what it felt like to be tossed in the Alzheimer's ocean and be afraid.

And I will never forget the experience of Watching My Sister...Disappear.

I Love You Today, Peggy!

Mary Louise

Tuesday, June 7, 2005


I have been out of the country for 10 day's.

When I got home and called Peggy, she didn't know me.

I was thinking that maybe, she would have missed my calls but there is no way to know.

I missed her. I missed hearing her voice.

It is difficult to miss someone that has been such a big part of your life and know that....

They did not miss you.

I Love You Today, Peggy!

Mary Louise