Alzheimer’s takes away almost everything.

The “almost” has us watching for those moments, glimpses of the person we’re losing, a knowing hint of a smile, a touch. their essence. Maybe that’s the one thing that survives, if not in the victim’s body and mind, in that aura we sense when we pull our chair up and take their hand, in the squeeze of their grip, in our hearts when their eyes find ours, even if for just a moment.

Almost everything will slip away on the Alzheimer’s journey. Those moments when an air pocket of their essence bubbles to the surface are almost everything. A reminder of the person we’re losing. A hint that they’re still with us. 

©Pennie Nichols. All Rights Reserved. 2023


Santa María Cathedral courtyard

Eres la misma: The Truths We Carry Forward

—¡Ay, Dios mío! ¡Eres la misma! (My goodness! You haven’t changed! [lit, You’re the same!]), my friend exclaimed when she met us at the train station, carrying on about how I hadn’t changed.

Of course I had changed. I’m not a mummy! And 31 years changes a person.

Seeing Each Other in What We Carry Forward

—¡Tus pantalones… ¡como siempre! (Your pants… like always!) She points at the hem of my pants, too close to the ground, dragging, if I’m honest. Pants always fit me too long. Short legs. Big bottom.

She hasn’t changed either, her dark hair, stubbornly parted just so, like always, like 41 years ago when we were kids on the same block, like 31 years ago when she visited me in Louisiana.

The years change us, inside and out, but some things, we drag through the years, the hem of my pants, the stubborn part on her head.

What are those things that remain, the ones that don’t change?

Familiar, comfortable, unleavable.


I’m so used to dragging pants that I rarely notice them. Leyre would be shocked to wake one morning to a wisp of bang parting in a new direction.

Mom has changed. Sure, 83 years of change, but bolder changes since 2017. Yet, when I wash her face, rub cream into her arms and legs, brush her hair, there are moments that leap in my heart, “¡Eres la misma!”

The same as always, battered mind, tired body, but there’s something… You’re the same. Tender and feisty. Determined. Busy.

When I roll you out for a stroll, you lean over towards the weeds in the walkway, the fallen limb on the drive.

This is a truth, a part you carry forward, even now when you can’t pull the weed or grab the stick, because the disease has changed you.

The Truths Within

What are the truths within that we carry forward through the wreckage of the years?

Without her seeing my pants or me her hair, what inner truths surface in the words of our reunion, in the stories we tell? What gives us pause for so familiar, so comforting, so “¡Eres la misma!” even after all these years?

I believe —I trust!— that the Inner Truths we carry forward are Eternal.

Divine Gifts of Spirit we carry into the world with our first breath then surrender to the world with our last.

The legacy loved ones remember and recognize.

Unmuted by change, unchanged by years.

Inner truths, true to Spirit.

Beautiful, kind, tender.

Expansive love and hope, rising and spilling forward from within.

Sometimes when I lean over mom to adjust her bedding or fix her hair, she reaches up to caress my face. Smiles.

I see you mom. Eres la misma, la misma de siempre.

I think you see me, too. In that photo of me, Leyre, and Ken Follett admiring the Catedral de Santa María? I’m the one with the dragging pants. Ken’s the statue.

©Pennie Nichols. All Rights Reserved. 2022