DiscoverBiographies & Memoirs

Searching for Spenser

By

Loved it! 😍

This beautiful memoir is a joy to read - connecting us to our humanity and honoring people who daily fight on the front lines for kids.

Synopsis

When her son Spenser was diagnosed with a disability, Kramar embarked on a transformative journey which emboldened her to question what defines success, how we perceive others and whether she could have been a better mother. She realizes that living through loneliness, rejection and divorce had enabled her to become a stronger advocate for her child. After Spenser dies and she searches for him in the memories of relatives, teachers and friends, she finds a love that shatters any barriers that divide us.

If someone asked me to list my top three fears, I would say divorce, watching my child suffer, and losing a child. Any one of those situations would wreck me forever. 


Margaret Kramer dealt with all three, coming out on the other side whole and hopeful. In Searching for Spencer, Kramer tells her story including her fears, realities, and lessons learned. She doesn’t hold back in telling the details - the visceral version, not the commercialized motherhood of perfection often portrayed - even when she may not be shown in the best light. This unvarnished memoir is a beautiful testimony to a family navigating hard realities. Kramar is honest about her own role as wife, mother and professional, and she adeptly includes other’s relationships with her son Spenser as relayed to her in subsequent interviews. 


Some aspects of her journey made me laugh. Others made me sob. And a few I wanted to shout at her to choose differently. In all of them, Kramar’s courage shines.


Kramar allows us to walk a mile in her shoes, understanding the challenges of parenting a child with special needs and dealing with the death of a child. We can empathize with her in the uniqueness of her experience and also relate to her because of the similarities to our own experiences parenting. We all have hopes, dreams, and fears related to our kids and their individual circumstances. “We would still have a happy ending, even if I had to manufacture it” she says. What parent hasn’t had that thought? 


In Searching for Spenser, you get an emotionally raw, ultimately hopeful, and eloquently told story of a boy who was nice to everyone. And we get a example of a mother who allowed her son to be himself, living in the present, every day he was given. Oh that we could all offer that same gift to our children instead of viewing them as “reflections of ourselves“. 


You don’t have to be divorced, a parent of a child with disabilities, or even a parent who has lost a child to benefit from reading this book.  Kramar’s book connects us to our humanity - our birth, our living, our emotions, our searching, our hope, our death. Her writing is engaging, illustrative, and smart without being peachy or pretentious. This memoir is a joy to read and an honor to the memory of Spenser. 

Reviewed by

I believe reading books is a gateway to living your best life. Reading helps you to know yourself and to relate to others more deeply. Books are fabulous conversation starters, even with non-readers. One of my missions in life is to share book love with anyone and everyone. Books bring joy!

Synopsis

When her son Spenser was diagnosed with a disability, Kramar embarked on a transformative journey which emboldened her to question what defines success, how we perceive others and whether she could have been a better mother. She realizes that living through loneliness, rejection and divorce had enabled her to become a stronger advocate for her child. After Spenser dies and she searches for him in the memories of relatives, teachers and friends, she finds a love that shatters any barriers that divide us.

The Memory Bank

There’s nothing suspenseful about this story. I’m telling you right

up front that he died when he was ten. I’ve learned some things

since giving birth to Spenser, a child with a developmental disability.

Quite a few, actually.

Voices. Words. Sometimes in the pauses of long distance telephone

conversations, words of other speakers, distant and disembodied,

seep through. Words not intended for me. Words bridging

time zones, geographic regions, territories of the heart. Likewise in

subways, department stores or theatres as the lights dim, more words.

We are always blanketed by the soft, reassuring drone of words, too

muffled to be understood, that tell us we are not alone. It is the chorus,

the low constant buzzing, that connects us.

I bring to mind Spenser’s words, the sound of his voice, but can

only hear a few conversations distinctly. The soprano of his voice

is becoming garbled, far off. He did make cooing sounds as a baby.

Sometimes he yelled “No” when forced to do his spelling words. His

constant congestion caused his vocal tone to be nasal and mangled

his words. In his usual school outfit of a turtle-neck pullover and blue

jeans, he would make emphatic declarations, but I don’t remember

what they were, because I was too busy, grabbing for the phone or the

cookbook.

I sift through my memory bank for visual images of Spenser,

framed with longing, as I slide my thumb over his photograph, my

face reflected in the glass. My baby. My boy. His blonde hair is as fine

as corn silk. His almond eyes are set slightly apart, on either side of

the flat bridge of his tiny nose, diagnostic characteristics of Sotos syndrome,

his disability.

Spenser, where have you gone? He doesn’t answer, but his smiling

expression in his portrait on the desk never changes, whether the

glass reflects the east light of dawn or the long afternoon rays of the

sun, which extend and then recede like the tide through the seasons. I

pretend that the elementary school photo was taken only months ago,

that I can hear him playing downstairs, that he never died.

But he is suspended in mid-sentence, says nothing. I study the details

of his face, his eyebrows darker than I remembered, a small crater

of dimple that indents his cheek, which he inherited from me.

In a newsletter, a bereaved mother suggested cataloguing memories

on notecards, four by six inches, which she stored neatly in a

compact box. I don’t want to write on notecards because my recipe

boxes are a disaster, overflowing with partially alphabetized clippings.

This manuscript is my memory box. In it I reconstruct Spenser from

the memories of family, teachers and friends. I record his whispers,

carried by the wind. I might glimpse him, darting past the twining

clematis in a brightly-colored cap on a summer afternoon. He can’t

have gone that far.

About the author

Margaret Kramar is an educator who taught English at the University of Kansas where she recently completed her PhD. Her work has appeared in numerous newspapers, magazines and anthologies. She and her family live on a farm in NE Kansas where they produce organically grown fruits and vegetables. view profile

Published on November 10, 2018

Published by Anamcara Press

80000 words

Genre: Biographies & Memoirs

Reviewed by

Enjoyed this review?

Get early access to fresh indie books and help decide on the bestselling stories of tomorrow. Create your free account today.

or

Or sign up with an email address

Create your account

Or sign up with your social account