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 Barbara Zimmerman's Eulogy Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version  
 Author:  Scharfman Family
 Dated:  Friday, June 03 2005 @ 06:45 PM Eastern Daylight Time
In loving Memory of Spenser Scharfman

Many people believe that every person is put on this earth for a reason and with a purpose. I believe that the purpose of some select and extraordinary people is to make the lives of others richer, more meaningful and better.

Spenser Scharfman, I believe, was one such person. Anyone who had the chance and privilege to know Spenser was all the more better for it.

Spenser cared for everyone in a profoundly deep and unyielding manner. He did this always, despite the enormous challenges he dealt with for most of his life.

I recently was reminded of an event that occurred that exemplifies Spenser’s spirit. When Spenser was four I was visiting for the weekend. My back had been bothering me and I mentioned it to Stewart. Stewart, being a physical therapist, wanted to help. He told me to go in the living room and lie on my stomach. I did so and Stewart then sat on my back and began working on me. As is often the case under such circumstances, it was somewhat painful. I’m sure I was grimacing. All of a sudden a voice rang out. “Get off of Barbara! You’re hurting her.” It was Spenser. Neither Stewart nor I knew he was there. We both explained to Spenser that Daddy was trying to make me feel better. It was obvious that Spenser was not totally satisfied with this response as his face still showed concern. He did, however, leave the living room. He quickly returned. He crawled over to me and extended his hand. In it was a grape. I ate that grape and it was the sweetest grape I ever had. I’m sure no grapes in the future will ever taste as sweet to me again.

Spenser has always been my hero and later when I faced my own challenges, he became my role model as well. I will never forget his essence of love and all the lessons he taught. I know that none of us will forget these things.

I pray that the wonderful memories and love that Spenser leaves behind will comfort Joy, Stewart and Adam… and all who loved this very special boy. May we all walk with the spirit and character of the much beloved Spenser Scharfman. The world will be a much better place if we do.

Barbara Zimmerman

 Adam's Eulogy Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version  
 Author:  Scharfman Family
 Dated:  Monday, May 30 2005 @ 10:12 AM Eastern Daylight Time
Spenser died this morning. Oh God. You gave me my brother and you took him away.

We slept with him the whole night. No night nurse. I was on the floor with the dogs. At 6:30 Dad woke me up and told me to go sleep with Spenser. He stared at me. I knew his breathing was slow. I wanted to coughalate, but an angel induced me to go back to sleep. I couldn’t move and I just closed my eyes.

I woke up at 7:24 and I peed. When I came back in the room Danny and Mommy were in the bed with Spenser and told me to get Daddy.

I went to the porch, and Dad was talking with Dinah about the plans for the day. I said let’s go into Spenser’s room. We went in. He was turning blue, breathing once a minute.

We climbed into bed with him and cried on him. He was still in his pajamas. Every time we thought that was it, he took another breath. Why was he still fighting for life even now? After 20 minutes he arched his back and I said, “Spenser, you don’t have to hold on, you don’t have to suffer. We’re all here, we all love you. Adam, Mommy, Daddy, Danny, Yair, Jesse, Mocha, Hugga bugga, Sandy, Elvis…”

I realized then that it was over. He stopped. He was peaceful. The sun kissed his face. We all kissed him. Dinah and my parents cleaned him up, got him dressed in a nice green shirt and blue jeans. His body slowly turned blue and pale. The warmth left his lips.

Goodbye was impossible. For the next four hours we were all with him sobbing, crying, --
Get my little brother on the phone!

My Spenser, my little brother, you angel, you gift, you miracle.

I love you. And I am going to share your wisdom for the rest of my life.

1) You don’t have to fight with your siblings. If you have a brother or a sister, give them a hug and a kiss now for me. Cherish them. They are God’s gift to you. You don’t have to argue with them, they can be your best friends. Just love them and cherish them.

2) You don’t have to talk badly about anyone. If anyone ever complained about someone that Spenser knew and loved he would get very upset and give us ‘Big Eye’ and put us in our place. Just remember Spenser and how he saw the good in people.

3) Every day is a miracle. Every day you have with people you love is a miracle. In our house we always say “to miracles” before dinner. Spenser never took a single second for granted and he always had that cute smile and that witty sense of humor to keep us all on our toes.

4) We have free will. I took a philosophy class this semester called free will. And we were trying to figure out if we could have free will despite the possibility of the events of our universe being determined by the laws of nature and the past. Well that’s a mouthful, and I still don’t understand it, but Spenser taught me that we do have free will. Despite a brain tumor that ate up his brain stem and cerebellum, this kid willed life, love, and happiness.
Despite every reason to die, he lived. And boy did he live.

5) The language of love.
Spenser brought all types of people together; Jewish, Catholic, Protestant, Islamic, Chinese, Korean, Filipino, Colombian, old and young, firefighters and pilot students.
Many of them had their disparities, but they all came together to take care of Spenser.
And the environment that Spenser created in our house brought people together all the time.

I’m doing my part to honor my brother’s ability to communicate with everyone based on the language of love by learning music and Chinese. I hope that I can reach people with those skills like my brother reached everyone else.

1. Kiss your brother and sister
2. Don’t say bad things about people
3. Celebrate every day as a miracle
4. We have free will
5. Learn a language of love, like Chinese
(I hear French is very ‘lovey dovey’)

I hope you can join me and my parents in honoring what Spenser stood for. And all of you have had your unique experiences with Spenser.
Write them down, anonymous or not. Bring them to Shiva. We can compile a collection.
And we’ll all read and pray together.
I can’t hug him or kiss those cute lips anymore. But Spenser, we want to send you off with a hug and kiss anyway.
You’ll always be my baby brother.
My teacher,
My friend,
My inspiration,
My soul mate.
I love you.
Adam Scharfman

 Stewart's Eulogy Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version  
 Author:  Scharfman Family
 Dated:  Sunday, May 29 2005 @ 02:02 PM Eastern Daylight Time
Taking care of Spenser was not work for me and Joy. It was an honor and a privilege. Spenser made it so easy since he was an exemplary child in every way. Everything about him was done with true style and class.

It was all about love in our home and we fought a long and courageous battle. I always had to remind myself that Spenser alone, and none of us was the patient. He accepted all his disabilities and limitations like none I have ever met both as a parent and a Physical Therapist. Everyone who ever met Spenser was awestruck by his magnificent personality, brilliant coping abilities, whit, bravery and stamina. It is no small wonder that he survived fourteen years with a horrible brain tumor. It was a testament to our ongoing belief in ‘miracles’ and his love of life.

Early on it became clear that he would always be identified by his disabilities. It became our goal to make sure that he is remembered for his abilities. Spenser was the most remarkable human being I have ever known. He never complained or backed down from adversity. He taught all of us the true meaning of what life is all about. I have thousands of favorite stories but one of them went like this... Joy was having angst over something silly and thought she couldn’t do something... Spenser said to her, “Mom, if we can get up at 2 a.m. to go to the hospital for brain tumor surgery you can do anything.”

I have in my hand some index cards that Spenser wrote in 1995 during his second neurosurgery when he was intubated and couldn’t speak. Picture this if you can because while he couldn’t speak and he had a dozen tubes coming out of him, he could still play his ‘Game boy.’ These are what he wrote on the cards…“stop buggin me”, “your mein”, “you ashole” and “shout-up.”

The journey began in 1991 when we found out Spenser had a brain tumor in a terrible location, the brainstem. Along the way we met some of the most incredible people. We became close to his main team of medical personnel that included Doctors Jeffrey Allen, Arthur Atlas, Gilbert Dick, Fred Epstein and Joseph Zito and the original nurses, Anita and Tania. Spenser had radiation to his brain, chemo therapy twice, and three neurosurgeries to the posterior fossa of his brain. For a little kid he had an extensive medical history. However, we took him skiing, he played the drums and went to sleep away camp. He rode on Muffit the horse, a motorcycle, a hot air balloon, and a catamaran. He was in the Special Olympics and he always had friends. He loved to go in the pool, attend the Big Apple Circus and go to Mickey’s Farm!

When Spenser was a few years old he asked if he could have a dog. At the time, Joy and I answered that we would get him one when he was seven years old. A few months before his seventh birthday he said, “You know, I’m almost seven and you promised me a dog.” The rest is history and we added two turtles and Elvis the snake. Jesse, in particular, was so attached to Spenser and was always by his side!

Spenser was a genius. He knew what was going on in his body and he directed us to help best direct his care. He knew when he could no longer live on the second floor of the house and so we made the renovations to accommodate him. He knew when it was too difficult to continue in the mainstream school and so he was accepted at the Henry Viscardi School. The tribute he paid to us for introducing us to all his friends at Viscardi serves as an inspiration. The family of teachers whom he adored is very special as is his best friend, Eric. We love you and your family. He taught us how to give greater dignity to people and animals. You could never speak poorly about someone in front of Spenser. He saw the positive in every situation.

In the last five years, after he became quadriplegic and had a tracheotomy, we needed greater assistance than we could have ever imagined. No longer could the four of us make it without help. We opened our home to a 24 hour 7 day hospital setting with a terrific team. It brought us in touch with so many diverse international caregivers who were dedicated to him. Spenser touched their lives and each one has a different outlook on life because of that relationship. Thank you Dolores, Dinah, Kevin, Hylen, Veronica, Susan, Susan and Kathleen. And to the trio of superstars whom Spenser lived to be with each day, Paul, Brian and Andrew. Ronit, Arthur, Nina, Paige and Phil we owe you guys a special ‘thank you’, since each of you is more incredible and has meant more to Spenser than the next.

Spenser’s Bar Mitzvah was probably the highlight of so much of his life. His D’var Torah spoke about Sacrifices; Spenser was the master. The end of his life is about freedom. At his Bar Mitzvah he told us “no crying;” he didn’t give us instructions about today.

Spenser taught Joy, Adam and I new ways to be strong. He kept us in line and his feisty nature was a pleasure. We extended our laughter and love through his special gift and blessings. He taught us about Tzedakah. Joy is the most wonderful mom in the world; what she can do is historic. Since the day I set my eyes on her I knew she was special. I have never met a person who takes better care of people than Joy. Adam, I said at his Bar Mitzvah that he was Spenser’s ‘Special Medicine.’ It seems it works both ways. Never were two brothers closer. Unsurpassed adoration and respect for each other. We were privileged to have the two greatest gifts in our Adam and Spenser. Just so you know, Adam and Spenser spoke Chinese to each other these last two semesters. The four of us did an amazing job. We met the finest group of Doctors. For all the trips we took to NYU, Morristown and Beth Israel North, you all came ‘home to Spenser’ these past few weeks. It is an amazing honor to be friends with all of you.

With all his dependence and limitations, Spenser was able to set himself free and apart from that and he was given Peace, Serenity and Wisdom far beyond his sixteen years. He certainly deserves a hero’s welcome on his next journey.

Stewart Scharfman