Denise Day Spencer

January 2, 2011

The year the magic died

Filed under: Home Front,Personal reflections — denisedayspencer @ 11:05 am

It’s time for reflection on Christmas 2010–my first Christmas without Michael.

Christmas is such a time for memories, and 31 years of marriage left me with memories galore. Like our very first Christmas, when we bought a real tree and Michael had to trim off the lowest twigs to make it fit in the stand and he chopped his thumb to the bone with the carving knife. We never forgot my taking him to the ER for those seasonal stitches. And like that same year when Michael wanted to do stockings but he bought everything except the stocking so he crammed the stuff into a brown paper bag he labeled “Christmas Bag” with a ballpoint pen. I saved that precious little bag for years, and would give anything to have it now. (more…)

November 26, 2010

Magical Mistoffelees

Filed under: Home Front — denisedayspencer @ 8:28 pm

In the past year I have lost three cats and one husband — not exactly in that order. Since I’ve written a lot about my husband, today I’d like to write about one of the cats. I write about one and not two or all three not because I didn’t care for them all, but because the one had such an interesting — at times even bizarre — life.

His name was “Mistoffelees.” Not “Mephistopheles,” as some misunderstood the name to be. He was named after the “Mr. Mistoffelees” in T. S. Eliot ‘s poetry book, Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats. Even more specifically, he was named after the “Magical Mr. Mistoffelees” of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical, Cats. Just in case you don’t know, Webber’s Cats is based on the felines in Eliot’s book of poems.

When Clay was in the fourth grade we made a family trip to Memphis to see Cats on stage. Magical Mr. Mistoffelees is described as “quiet and small; he is black from the ears to the tip of his tail…” He is called “the original conjuring cat” because in addition to being able to do card tricks and make things disappear, “His voice has been heard on the roof when he was curled up by the fire, and he’s sometimes been heard by the fire when he was about on the roof.” (more…)

October 15, 2010

A good ninety minutes

Filed under: Home Front,Personal reflections — denisedayspencer @ 5:53 pm

Last night we made a social worker smile–“we” being my grief support group and the social worker being Barb, our group leader. She asked us to share about changes that have taken place in us, in our homes and in our personal worlds since we lost our loved ones.

Not all of the changes were good. Some were neutral, while others, truth be told, were probably not so great. One member has noticed a lot more gray hair since she buried her husband. Several of us said we’re not at home as much as we used to be. Are we keeping productively busy? Yes. Avoiding the loneliness of the empty house? Probably that, too.

The good stuff, though, it was pretty darn good. I shared how I recently made a five-hour trek to my hometown all by myself, and did several things on my mini-vacation that I simply wouldn’t have done if Michael had been with me. Not that I couldn’t have; I just wouldn’t have. And everyone smiled as I told of going with Noel to the doctor just the day before and hearing my grandchild’s heartbeat for the very first time. Meanwhile, Dave has started on a home improvement project. He’s slowly moving from room to room, painting and laying new carpet. This is the first time he’s shown a real interest in anything since his wife died a year ago. Susan surprised us all by saying that she’d been on a road trip since our last meeting. Though she admitted she couldn’t wait to get back home, this was still a big step for her. The biggest news, however, came from Dorothy. She was positively glowing as she told us that she’s getting ready to go on a mission trip in the near future. And she’s already planning to enjoy it so much that she’ll want to go again.

Barb was absolutely elated. “When I was here last month,” she recalled, “you were the most depressed bunch of people I’d seen in a long time. I went to work the next day and said, ‘Hey, gals. We’ve got to pray for my support group!'” And they did. Barb went on to caution us that at the next meeting, “You may all be depressed again. It comes and it goes.” Yes, if we’ve learned anything so far, we’ve learned that. But for one lovely evening we shared more collective healing and joy than we had ever before known as a group.

And so we trudge on with our tiny steps. Sometimes it seems like three backward for every one in the right direction. Tonight I’m smiling, but a week ago I was sobbing over the six-month anniversary of Michael’s passing. Tomorrow I may be a basket case. But right now I’m glad to have a social worker who cares and prays. I’m thankful for God’s moment-by-moment grace. And I’m grateful for last evening’s ninety minutes of happiness and hope.

May 28, 2010

It’s never too early to start

Filed under: Home Front,Personal reflections — denisedayspencer @ 6:53 pm

Noel has been notorious for posting notes on our refrigerator through the years well in advance of December. The note will be her Christmas wish list along with the admonition, “It’s never too early to start!” Shopping for her, that is.

With that as my theme I’d like to discuss something much less cheery than Christmas. In fact it’s not cheery, but positively dreary. It’s death. This post is basically a public service announcement, but one from my own experience. From Michael’s experience. And it’s very important, so listen up. (more…)

December 26, 2009

“Terminal”ly homeless

Filed under: Home Front — denisedayspencer @ 9:41 pm

As I write this, Michael has been a hospital inpatient for five days. Absolutely everybody — from the chief neurosurgeon to the young lady who brings the breakfast trays — has been wonderful to us. So I have no real complaints. But I do have a thing I’d like to mention to any hospital administrators who just happen to be fans of my writing. Think of it as constructive criticism, OK? I’m only trying to be helpful. (more…)

December 20, 2009

The Advent within

Filed under: Devotional Life,Home Front — denisedayspencer @ 6:17 pm

Advent is a time of waiting. Boy, don’t I know it.

As other people light Advent candles and wrap Christmas gifts, Michael and I are waiting. First we waited to see if our family doctor agreed that Michael was having a gallbladder attack. Then we waited for the results of a CT scan because something on the ultrasound looked a wee bit suspicious. Next we waited to see an oncologist because the CT showed things that were downright scary. Now we wait for Tuesday, when Michael will have a biopsy. Then more waiting until the physician can tell us what kind of cancer this is and how we will fight it. And so it goes…and will go for some time. (more…)

December 9, 2009

It’s all in the timing

Filed under: Home Front — denisedayspencer @ 7:39 pm

I think it must be a guy thing. Impeccable timing, that is. Case in point:

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving Day. Well, except for the fact that Michael was beginning to get sick from a gallbladder episode. My daughter and daughter-in-law both helped with the cooking. Noel made a zesty potato casserole embellished with red peppers. Taylor cooked cranberry pomegranate sauce, butternut squash soup and apple pie cookies. All that was left for me was the turkey, dressing, green bean casserole and rolls.

The only downside was that lots of cooking meant lots of dirty dishes. There were the plates and the silverware. The dessert plates. And all of those pots and pans. Especially all of those pots and pans. (more…)

October 6, 2009

Random thoughts from our South Carolina vacation

Filed under: Home Front,Random ramblings — denisedayspencer @ 5:49 pm

I’m not 100% sure, but I think South Carolina church potlucks might be better than Kentucky church potlucks. Or maybe it’s just those Mennonites. I need to conduct further research into the matter before I reach any sort of conclusion.

It’s a bit unnerving to swim in a pool right next to an alligator pond.

It’s also unnerving to drive around a completely new city where there’s not a gas station to be found while about to run out of petrol.

A vacation at the beach is fantastic. A vacation at the beach is even more fantastic if you don’t have horrible poison ivy all over your ankles. (Poor Michael)

The people who get to the beach super-early in the morning really do get the best shells. (And one day that was me! Huzzah!)

If you’re ever on Sullivan Island, SC, don’t miss enjoying a meal at Poe’s Tavern. (more…)

September 19, 2009

Why I don’t sleep late on Saturdays

Filed under: Home Front — denisedayspencer @ 3:43 pm

Ah, Saturday. The day when people set the alarm later or turn it off altogether. The day when they pull the covers over their heads and snuggle in for a few more minutes…or hours, as the case may be.

I, however, am a morning person. And Saturday is my day to catch up on all the housework I’ve neglected through the week, plus hopefully save a couple of hours to do something fun. I always say I’m going to get up almost as early on Saturday as I do the rest of the week. If I sleep too late then I lose the entire morning and the rest of the day seems to evaporate in small increments. If I’m not careful, I’ll be mopping the floors at 10:00 p.m., and that’s not the something fun I had in mind. (more…)

July 14, 2009

Carbohydrate codependence

Filed under: Home Front — denisedayspencer @ 7:35 pm

THE PLAN: Eat an apple and drink a SlimFast in the car for supper.

THE REALITY: Eat deep-fried clams, deep-fried French fries and deep-fried hush puppies from Long John Silver’s. Oh, yeah, there was some cole slaw, too, but that doesn’t give me much comfort as I think back on it now.

I have two problems.

1. I really should drop some weight. Not a lot. But 10 pounds would sure be nice.

2. Michael is on a diet — The Carbohydrate Addict’s Diet.

You’re no doubt already wondering, “Why don’t you just go on the same diet as your husband?” Well, I don’t want to! For one thing, I don’t think I’m a carb addict. (Yes, I took the quiz in the book.) And this diet is designed for people with a certain kind of metabolism. For another thing, I love carbs! I prefer a balanced diet that’s moderately low in sugar and fat. And that basically seems to work for me, except…I’ve been putting on weight, slowly but surely. (more…)

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