Tuesday, August 29, 2006


I had an interesting thing happen to me.

I went to a new dentist and was sitting in the waiting room looking at a magazine.

A woman came in and sat across from me. I said hello and went back to reading the magazine.

She started a conversation and we began to talk.

She said that her mother had Alzheimer's disease and she was going to visit her later in the day.

I told her about Peggy and that she, also had Alzheimer's disease. I told her that I knew every case was different but that I understood some of the pain that she was experiencing.

She got tears in her eyes and agreed with me.

She was called into the dentist office and I continued to read the magazine while waiting to be called for my appointment.

I did not see the woman again while I was there.

After my appointment, I went to the window to check out. The woman checking me out said; Barbara, the lady you were talking to commented on what you said about her mother.

She said that you looked so together that it shocked her to hear about your sister and that you must not be very close to her.

She said that you looked like someone that never had anything bad to happen.

I really wasn't sure how to take what she said.

I have thought about her statement.

Some people carry all of the pain of their lives on their faces.

You know immediately when you meet them that they are dealing with great pain and suffering.

Some people carry the pain and suffering in their hearts.

It does not make the pain of watching Peggy disappear any less of a trama because I do not carry the pain on my face.

Every one deals with pain the best way that they can.

Judgement can be hurtful.

Maybe, I should stand on a corner, beat my chest and cry...I'm watching my sister....disappear.

Or just maybe, I approach my pain in a different way.

I  carry my pain inside and write to let it out.

Peggy would be embarrassed and angry with me if she thought that the pain she has caused by disappearing had etched lines into my face and showed every day.

My pain about Peggy is real but just not on display for everyone to see when they first meet me.

I only share the depth of my pain with people that I trust to listen and people who will not judge the level of my pain by the look on my face.

I hear the words of my Mother and Grand Mother and have integrated them into my life.

"I don't care what happens to you in your life. You can still smile through your tears. Comb your hair and put on your clothes.  Put on a little lipstick and a little rouge. You can handle anything that comes your way with grace and dignity".

I Love You Today, Peggy and I want you to know that......

 I put on my clothes, combed my hair and added a little lipstick and blush. I am smiling as I remember you with all the grace and dignity that I can find.

Mary Louise

Friday, August 18, 2006



AOL Journals 3-Year Anniversary Badge

Writing this journal and having the support of so many people in J-Land is helping as I navigate through the grief of...



Thank you, AOL Journals.

Thank you, to all who read my journal.

Thank you, to all who comment and give me the courage to continue writing.

I Love You Today, Peggy!

Mary Louise


  Have you ever gone to someone's house and expected them to be at home?

You walk up to their front door, ring the bell and wait.

You wait for the door to be opened wide.

You wait for a warm greeting.

You wait for your friend to ask you to come inside and visit.

You stand on the front porch and wait but no one comes to let you inside the house.

You stand there and ring the doorbell again with no response and you find yourself shifting from one foot to the other.

You walk around the house to check and see if perhaps they are in the back yard.

You walk back to the front porch a little confused. Could you have gotten the day wrong?

No one is home even though they knew that you were coming to visit.

Then, there has to be a decision on your part. Do you keep standing on the porch and keep knocking or do you turn around, walk down the walk and get in your car and drive away?

This is an illustration of what it is like to visit someone with Alzheimer's or Pick's disease.

I know that Peggy is home........

I know that Peggy is in there but where?

She has forgotten how to open the door to her family and friends.

The lights are on but it appears that no one is at home.

There are days where I wonder what I am doing to myself by continuing to knock on the door of her mind.

Should I turn around and leave because she doesn't answer her door?

Should I ?

I have thought about this a lot.

I have thought about never coming back to the door of her mind only to be turned away by no answer to my call.

I have thought about it but could never do it because I know that Peggy is in there somewhere.

Who knows...

I may get lucky again one day and she will open the door to her mind.

That one day when her door to her mind opens wide and she says....

Hi, ML, I knew you would come!

I Love You Today, Peggy!

Mary Louise


Friday, August 11, 2006


It has been hot and humid here lately.

I step outside of my air conditioned home and hit a wall of heat.

How can it be so hot and feel so wet?

It is not only hot but feels sticky, it is oppressive. The air is so thick with heat and water that I feel like I could chew it or cut it with a knife.

There is no chewing or cutting the wall of heat and humidity that awaits me as I navigate to the outdoors.

I do have options...

I could stay in the air conditioned house, be a prisoner of the heat but stay cool and watch the world go by from my safe place.

I could go from the cool house to my hot car, turn on the air conditioning and wait for the car to cool so that I could drive the car in cool comfort. Arriving at my destination, I could run through the oppressive heat into a building where I will be be in the air cooled environment again.

All of this running to avoid something that is oppressive.

Peggy ran from the oppression of Alzheimer's disease for a while but it caught her just like the heat and humidity catch me no matter what I do to avoid it's consequences.


There is no place to run and no place to hide. We must deal with life as it comes to us. We must do what we can to make a moment better for ourselves and not become a prisoner of our thoughts or of the oppression that we fear awaits us.

I will do what Peggy did..

I will face what oppresses me.

Something as simple as the heat and humidity or as great as the fears that I hide in my heart..but I will do it in Peggy style.

 With my eyes wide open and my head held high.

I am privileged..

I still remember my challenges and my fears. That means that I  have control over how I will react to everything that happens around me.

Peggy continues to be my teacher.....

Even from the dark prison of Alzheimer's disease, where she lives.....In her safe place.

I Love You Today, Peggy!

Mary Louise

Tuesday, August 1, 2006


Music has always been an important part of my life. I have the radio or stereo on  in my home most of the time. A house without music is too quiet for me.

A song came floating through the house this morning and made me remember 1805 St. Charles Court. It made me remember cleaning off the table and doing the dishes on a summer night when we were girls.

When we were girls, I signed up for dancing lessons at Harrisson Park. It was a community park close to our house.

The lessons were free and the lasted for four weeks. We learned how to dance the waltz and the cha cha.

After learning the dances, we decided that the Cha-Cha was the best dance to dance while cleaning off the table after supper was over.

It was also the best dance to do while washing and drying the dishes and putting them away.

Peggy would pick up a dish from the table on 1. Set it by the sink on 2 and cha-cha back to the table for another dish.

I would wash a dish on 1, rinse it on 2 and Cha,cha, cha to put the dish in the wire drain on the sink.

It took us a long time to clean the kitchen on those hot summer nights in Birmingham but it was a lot of fun for both of us.

Now, we are doing a different kind of dance.

Peggy is doing the cha cha with another partner but there is no laughter, no excitement, no fun.

She will continue to do this dance until the music stops.

I would love to have the power to go back to 1805 St.Charles Court. To a hot summer night when the cha cha blared from the radio and Peggy and I were dancing the cha cha while  doing the dishes.

How quickly the music faded from Peggy's life

Now, when a song comes on the radio with a cha cha beat, I stop what I am doing and cha cha for both of us.

 I miss dancing the cha cha in the kitchen of 1805 St. Charles Court.

If it is true that memories and sounds of the past residents stay in the walls of a house......

 On a hot  summer night, who ever is living in our house on St. Charles Court will swear that they hear the strains of the cha cha while sitting in the kitchen.

They just can't figure out where the music is coming from....

But I know.

I Love You Today, Peggy...Cha, Cha, Cha!

Mary Louise