Goodbye Mary


I have one more lovely story from Peter Lawson about his beloved Mary who had Alzheimer’s and it seems fitting that I should share this light-hearted story with you.


Mary left this world today. She has been a part of my life for as far back as I can remember. Selfishly I feel sad that she won’t be there for me to visit when I go home.


I remember her as a feisty, tough, brilliant, ‘say it as it is’ kind of lady, one who called a spade a spade and I can only imagine her sitting on HIS knee giving Him a serious mouthful. I can make sense of just about everything in my life. Most of it does make sense, it was part of a plan, but ALZHEIMER’S??? I so wish I could make sense of this awful disease. A disease which leaves the sufferer frightened and confused and leaves the family mourning someone who used to be a vibrant part of their lives, someone who is still alive. I think it must be the hardest thing in life, loving someone who has forgotten that they loved you.


We spend our whole lives accumulating memories and we develop a personality based on our experiences and memories. Alzheimer’s takes this away from you. It steals who you are from you and I can’t think of anything sadder.


I am in England, so far away from home. Today I wish more than anything that I was at home with my family. On days like today, I feel that I am not where I should be and I want to go home, I feel as though I am missing out on these good years with my own parents. I am counting the days until I go home.


I am so pleased that I have another one of Peter’s stories to share. Peter Lawson, this wonderful man who stood by his wife through so many years of Alzheimer’s, never stopped loving her and enjoyed precious split seconds when he knew that his dear wife recognized him. Once again, I have to say, I am in awe. You are all in my thoughts and prayers, Peter, Mavourneen, Bruce, Rob and all the grandchildren.


The last picnic

 A few days before Mary was due to be moved to the Herfsakker Alzheimer’s Unit I took her to Pretoriouskop in Kruger National Park for a final picnic breakfast.  We used to do this frequently as she loved these outings, provided they were of short duration. On this last occasion, we had finished breakfast and I took her to the ladies bathroom before departing. While she was inside I quickly went to the gents and then waited for her outside the ladies. She was taking rather a long time to appear so I asked someone to please check on her. To my horror, this person came out and said there was nobody inside.


I started to search for her and went to the shop and then the restaurant but she was not in either of these places, so I went to the reception area and told them what had happened. The manager was summoned and he was very sympathetic. He immediately rallied staff and told them to search throughout the extensive rest camp area and he took my cell phone number and said he would keep me informed whilst I too went searching for her. Then after some time, he phoned to say they had her in the reception area. I rushed up there and met two French tourists who knew about Alzheimer’s and they had found Mary and brought her to reception.


The story doesn’t end there because they told me they found her next to the road about 1km from the camp, talking to a huge bull elephant. They said the elephant appeared to be calm and was standing looking at her as if fascinated. Somehow they managed to get Mary into their car and drove back to the camp to report the situation. When I saw her she knew nothing about what she had done and there was no point in reprimanding her.  I couldn’t thank the couple enough and they told me that the woman had a mother back in France with Alzheimer’s and thus realized that Mary had a problem.


The camp manager and his staff were fantastic and they had gone to so much trouble and everyone was relieved to see us together again. When I drove out of the camp the elephant was still there. I stopped and thanked him too for being so kind to Mary. – Peter Lawson

I’m Free

Don’t grieve for me,

for now I’m free

I’ve left behind some misery.

My days of youthful agility

Were no longer a possibility.

My weak joints and cloudy eyes,

Were longing for the heavenly skies.

Don’t grieve for me,

You’ve set me free,

Just remember how I used to be!

Goodbye Mary

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