Monday, October 31, 2005


 We were learning about prepositions in English class when I was in the 4th grade. The teacher said that it was a word that connects a nown or pronown to another word.

Seeing the questioning eyes from all of the class, she drew a mountain on the chalk board and called it...Preposition Mountain.

She then asked a question... when you face a mountain what do you do?

We started to shout answers like...

You go over it, go around it, go under it, go through it, go into it.

I learned about the prepositions that day, what they were and how to use them. I have never forgotten about preposition mountain.

Sometimes, we need to see something visual before we can understand what it means and how it works.

Alzheimer's disease has been my preposition mountain.

I have tried to go over it, around it, under it, through it and even into it to understand what Peggy might feel like.

And after all of this, I still find myself sitting in front of the Alzheimer's mountain, uncertain about what to do next.

I want to conquer this mountain and rescue Peggy but I do not have the equipment necessary for the climb.

I must leave the conquering to those who know how to climb and conquer this massive mountain.

All the while, my sister Peggy sits on the peak of the mountain waiting to be rescued.

I can see climbers scaling the mountain and learning more about this disease.

They are only 1/4th of the way up to the highest peak and I am aware that when the climbers finally reach the top...

Peggy will not be there any longer.

I Love You Today, Peggy and hearing you say...Un Huh last night from your seat high on Alzheimer's mountain, was like hearing sweet music rolling down to the valley where I sit at the base of the mountain and.......

Pray that you will be rescued.

Mary Louise




Saturday, October 29, 2005


Most people walk in and out of your life............

But Sisters leave footprints all over your heart!

(Author unknown)

Peggy, Betty Jean and Barbara have left deep footprints in my heart.

Footprints that can never be erased....

Not by time or distance.

Not by remembering or forgetting.

The footprints that Peggy made in my heart are mine to keep and are very deep.

Mine to keep and treasure forever.

Peggy has forgotten that I had made footprints in her heart and she has forgotten that I am her sister.

But the footprints that she made as she walked around in my heart will be remembered for all of my life.

The footprints of laughter, secrets, hopes and dreams. The footprints of sharing concerns, sadness and despair. The footprints of growing up together. The footprints of being known as "The Ross Girls".

My footprints are still in Peggy's heart but....

She has just forgotten that........

I walked there.

I Love You Today, Peggy!

Mary Louise

Thursday, October 27, 2005


Once upon a time...

A little girl grew up and in her 40's decided to go Trick ot Treating.

She walked up to a door and when it opened, a monster was standing there.

The monster said; Ahhhh, Peggy, I have been waiting for you to knock at my door.

There will be no treats for you for the rest of your life. Only Tricks on your mind and body.

Your life will be a constant night of Halloween with monsters stealing your thoughts and running away with your memories. 

Do not scream for help because...

There is no one that can help you recover and be the person that you were.

You are mine now...

You will remain trapped in a night of Halloween miseries with ghosts that you can see.... but not remember.

You Peggy, will spend the rest of your life with me.


Thank goodness that there is new research now to slow the progression of this disease. New tests that can determine if you may get Alzheimer's disease.

It is too late for Peggy but just in time for millions of other people.

People who will not have to spend the remaining years of their lives living in the night of halloween.

I Love You Today, Peggy

Mary Louise

Wednesday, October 26, 2005


Peggy wouldn't talk with me today.

You would think that I would be accustomed to her silence by now.

I am not nor will I ever get used to Peggy's silence. She was always such a talker, bubbling with news and jokes.

I never realized how loud.....

Silence can be. 

How very loud the silence of Peggy sounds to my heart and

In my ears.

I Love You Today, Peggy!

Mary Louise

Tuesday, October 25, 2005


Yesterday, I was working on an entry for this journal.

I had written all of my emotions about watching Peggy disappear when all of a sudden, the screen went blank and my desk top appeared.

I sat there and stared at the blank screen. There was no way to retrieve everything that I had written. No way to retieve the emotion as I wrote those words. They were gone...

Then, a screen appeared that said; Your connection to AOl has been lost.

All of a connection was lost and my words disappeared. Just like Peggy, I thought.

Then, another screen popped up and said...FIX IT FOR ME.

I clicked on the fix it for me button and my connection was restored and AOl was up and running again.

I went back to my journal and faced a blank screen that once contained all the words that I had typed about Peggy.

I had to start all over again trying to recall what I had written. The words would not come and the thoughts that had been recorded minutes before were lost.

The blank screen is Peggy and our connection has been lost. There is no screen that will pop up in our lives that says....

Fix it for me.

My connection to Peggy has been lost forever and no one can repair the damage.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if there were a button that we could push that had these words written on it.

Fix it for me!

I could push the "fix it for me" button....

And Peggy would appear back in my life, just the way she was before her screen went blank.

I Love You Today, Peggy!

Mary Louise

Sunday, October 23, 2005


We live our lives every day with what I call "The Givens".

"The givens" are...The sun will come up in the morning. There will be air to breathe. Spring will come and there will be flowers. Summer will slide into our lives and bring heat. Fall will ease upon our sight and bring beautiful colors and falling leaves. Winter will blow it's icy breath and there will be cold temperatures, snow and freezing rain.

There are also "Givens" with the people that we know and love.

Kissing your husband or wife good bye in the morning and feeling the "Given" that you will see them again at the end of the day.

The quick wave goodbye to your children as they go off to school.

The "Given" is that they will walk through the door later in the day and shout, I'm home!

The "Given" when you see your Teenager drive away in the car, assuming that they will drive back home later in the day. 

The Given's in our lives tell us that we will always have.....


Peggy and I had many givens during our lives as sisters and I never thought about not having her in my life every day. 

The thought that we would always there for one another was a "given" in my life.

I never thought about the flip side of Given......Until Alzheimer's entered Peggy's brain and took her away.

I never flipped the coin of "Given" over to see the face of "Taken" on the other side.

I never flipped the coin over until I started....

Watching Peggy disappear.

I Love You Today, Peggy!

Mary Louise


Friday, October 21, 2005


Dear God,

It's me again.

I know that I talk to you a lot about many things.

Thanks for listening to me every day about my sister.

This morning, I want to talk to you about Peggy.

I know that you remember her because she used to talk to you a lot too.

She has forgotten how to talk now and so I will ask you some questions for her.

There were five children in our family, why was Peggy singled out to get a disease like Alzheimer's? Why not me?

Why did she develop Alzheimer's disease in her 40's when, if she had stayed well, she could have done a lot more good?

Why do bad things happen to good people?

I was pretty angry with you when Peggy got sick, God. I know you felt my anger but you allowed me to work through it. Thanks.

I know you are a loving God, so.....

Did you cry when Peggy found out her diagnoses?

Do you cry for her now?

It is raining outside today. Are those your tears?

God, please stay close to Peggy because she needs you even though she doesn't remember who you are any longer.

Is there a special place in your heart for people who don't remember who you are any longer?

We have something in common this morning God because Peggy doesn't remember me any longer either.

I know you know how it feels to lose someone you love.

That is why it is so comforting to talk to you every day because you know all and have experienced all.

Peggy is a special person but you know that about her because you sent her into my life.

God, I know that you have a lot to worry about as you see what has been happening on earth lately. So much destruction, war and loss of life.

Thank you for remembering one person in the mist of it all, my sister Peggy.

Thank you for loving Peggy even though she has forgotten who you are.

Thank you, God for these talks every day because they really help as I try to understand and live with loss.

It is as if I am a puzzle, in pieces all over the floor and you stooped down, picked up a piece of my life and said; this is where we will start Mary Louise..... One piece at a time.

It is nice to know that I can talk to you at any time, day or night and I know you are listening and caring and that.....

You are crying with me!

I Love You Today, Peggy and...

God sends much love to you this morning!


Peggy, I want you to know that one piece of my broken puzzle is back in place. There is a lot more to put back before the puzzle of my life is complete without you in it.......

But, one piece is back in place this morning.

God told me!

Mary Louise






Tuesday, October 18, 2005


I talked to Peggy on Sunday night and was aware that she is drifting further and further away.

It is like all of her feelings have been turned off and she is separate from this world.

Her voice was soft and there was no emotion in her words when I talked to her.

Peggy was a person of laughter and expressive words in the past.

Now, she is a shell of her former self with no emotion to share.

How can I love someone who doesn't remember me any longer?

How can I love a person who has no emotion?

How can I love a person who has nothing to share with me?

How can I love a person?

How can I love?

How can I?


I remember the Peggy that used to be.

I remember Peggy before Alzheimer's disease took her feelings and emotions from her.

I remember a bright, funny, caring and loving Peggy.

I remember and fill in the empty spaces for her.

"When the heart grieves over what it has lost,

The spirit rejoices over what it has left".            Sufi Epigram

I Love You Today, Peggy!

Mary Louise

MY LIFETIME LISTENS TO YOURS          (Muriel Ruckeyser)


Friday, October 14, 2005


Watching Peggy disappear has released all the saved tears of my life.

I have cried over things that I had tucked away and willed myself not to cry over long ago.

Silly things like... the boy in 1st grade who call me a stupid butt and hurt my feelings.

And for the girls in 7th grade who didn't think that I was good enough to be in their click.

I cried for the times that I was embarrassed over something that I had said or done.

I cried for the disappointment I saw in my parent's eyes at times when I was growing up.

I cried again for the babies that I lost by miscarriage.

I cried for the times that I have let my husband or children down.

Watching my sister disappear has given me a reason to release my tears of the past.

I think that when we finally let go and have a long, releasing cry....

We cry for what has happened in the present and causes our intense pain but we also cry...

All the tears of our lives!




I Love You Today, Peggy!

Mary Louise

Wednesday, October 12, 2005


I am remembering Halloween when Peggy and I were children.

We trick or treated in the day's when you left home at dusk, a big pillow case in hand and stayed out until you couldn't drag your full pillow case any longer. We dressed in whatever we could find around the house, which usually meant that we were Ho-Bo's or gypsys. One year, we were sack heads ( see picture)! There were no store bought costumes and part of the fun on Halloween was finding something to wear. 

We didn't come home until 10:00 or 11:00 pm or until we couldn't drag our full pillow cases any longer.

There were no adults chaperoning us. Just a bunch of kids who felt safe to walk miles from our homes in the dark on Halloween night.

We sang songs as we walked through the neighborhoods and shouted to the top of lungs when someone opened their door.


We were invited into homes and sat and ate homemade candy and caramel apples and talked with people that we didn't know.

It was a good time to be a kid and a safe time to trick or treat.

I still remember Peggy dragging her pillow case, full of candy and yelling,

Hey, M.L.... wait up!

Sometimes, we would walk up to a front door and shout...Trick or treat...Smell my feet...Give me something good to eat! And I do mean SHOUT!

 If no one answered the door, we got vicious....

We would go into their yard and pick up a bunch of leaves and throw them on their front porch and run for our lives, laughing. We thought we were sooo bad and sure the police would arrest us if we didn't run fast enough!

I keep the memories of Halloween past in my heart. The memories of dressing for Halloween and coming home so tired. It didn't matter how late it was or how exhausted we were, we would still spread our candy on the floor, on a piece of newspaper and count each piece.

I open my door on Trick or Treat night now to children who are too shy to even say trick or treat.

I see their parents waiting for them with flashlights.

This is a different time where children are not free to enjoy the Halloween nights that Peggy and I enjoyed and it makes me sad.

Peggy has forgotten about all the Trick or Treat nights at 1805 St Charles Court but I keep them in my heart.

This Halloween, when I open my door to give a treat to a child, I will smile and remember.

I will remember the warm Halloween nights in Birmingham and feel like a child again, inside...

What I would give on this Halloween 2005 to walk down a dark street in Birmingham, Alabama, dragging a pillow case full of candy and hearing Peggy's voice say...

Hey, M.L...........Wait Up!    Just once more.

I Love You Today Peggy!

Happy Halloween!

Mary Louise

Sunday, October 9, 2005


The trees on our street are beginning to turn fall colors.

The word "Fall" describes what will happen in the weeks ahead. The leaves will fall and the trees will be bare again. They will be waiting for snow to cover them against the cold winds of winter. They will be resting and waiting for spring and life in their limbs again.

When I think of Fall, I think of Peggy but without the hope of Spring.

She once stood like the trees on my street and she was beautiful in the Spring and Summer of her life. The sun sparkled through her mind.

Then, the  cool winds of Fall began to blow through her brain and the thoughts in her mind began to turn dark colors. They lost their grip on the branches of her memory and began to fall, one thought at a time.

Now, Peggy stands bare, stripped of thoughts while the cold wind of Alzheimer's disease continues to blow through her brain.

Soon, there will be nothing left in her mind of summer. There will be no summer memories to warm her during the winter of her life. 

 There will only be the cold, freezing snow of Alzheimer's covering her brain while she stands, shivering in the cold.

There is no hope of Spring for Peggy and no memory of summer because the seasons of her life have ended and she lives in the cold of winter.

Watching Peggy disappear is like watching a leaf lose it's grip on a branch of a tree and slowly twist and turn until it reaches the ground.

Now, every time that I see a leaf on the ground...

I will remember Peggy.

I Love You Today, Peggy!

Mary Louise

Saturday, October 8, 2005


One of the major things that I have missed as I have watched Peggy disappear is our sharing.

Growing up, we shared clothes, shoes and advice and truth.

Who else would you share clothes and shoes with than someone you trust. Someone, who was herself but was also a part of you.

Who else would you trust to tell you the truth if it was not your sister?

I would get dressed for a date when we were at home and ask Peggy what she thought of my outfit. Sometimes, she would scrunch her face and tilt her head and say...uhhhh, M.L, I think a white blouse would look better than the one you have on and change your shoes.

I always took her advice because I knew that she was honest with me and told me the truth.... in a kind way.

Who else would be as honest about hair, makeup, clothes, and men than your sister?

Trust between Peggy and me came early. We were honest with one another on many levels.

I miss that. I miss our sharing and I miss her honesty but 

our sharing is one part of our sisterhood that I miss the most.

I get angry that she is not here any longer. Very, very angry but...

 Who do I get angry with?

You can never miss someone who was not there for you.

Peggy was there for me and now she is not.

I was there for Peggy and now she doesn't even remember my name or that we were sisters.

Life has played a cruel trick on us and now I must go on without her in my life.

I can do this because she taught me to be honest with myself.

I am honest with my feeling this afternoon and I can say with honesty...

I'm angry with her for going away and leaving me to find my own honesty in life. She is no longer there for me to lean on with my troubles or my fears.

Her simple act of going away has left me...

To find my own honesty and strength in life...

All by myself.

I Love You Today, Peggy!

Mary Louise

Monday, October 3, 2005


I was able to talk to Peggy on Saturday night.

Her voice fluctuated from soft to strong. She was confused by some of my questions so I quickly changed to a simple, one word answer.

There were times when she seemed to know my voice and then I could hear a question in her answer's.

Hearing her voice was like having a light come on in the dark.

She is still there in the darkness of Alzheimer's disease but she refuses to let her light go completely out.

I am amazed at the strength she possesses as she goes deeper into darkness.

No matter how dark the night becomes....

I will always leave the light on for Peggy. I wait for the moment when she comes out of her darkness for a second and  says, Hi, Mary Louise. 

I may not be able to lead Peggy from the darkness of Alzheimer's disease but a single light in the dark will let her know that she is not alone.

The light is always on, Peggy!

I Love You Today, Peggy!

Mary Louise