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 Just look at the good things Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version  
 Author:  Andrew
 Dated:  Wednesday, April 26 2006 @ 01:39 AM Eastern Daylight Time
Dear Spenser,

Not a day goes by that I don't think of you and the things I have learned from you. You told me once when you sensed that I was upset about something "Just look at the good things" and then you put on a big smile, which in turn made me smile. I've never became so close to someone in such a short amount of time of knowing them. As buddies we talked about girls from time to time, we gotta love girls right? But you, being my best buddy taught me the true meaning of love. You made me realize that it's alright to let out emotions and thoughts, you showed me what a true friend really is. When I left your house after you and your family said good night, I felt refreshed, and happy to have the gift of knowing such an amazing person. It's been almost a year since I last saw you, I miss you very much but I'm in peace knowing and truly believing that you're doing well in a better place. You never deserved to live in the condition that you were in and battles that you faced, but you, your wonderful parents, Adam, Paul, Brian, all of your friends, family, doctors and nurses made the best of it. And especially to see you make the best of it and be as positive, loving, and caring as you were amazed me, and always will amaze me. What you do deserve now, after the extraordinary amount of lives that you have touched is to be everything that you ever wanted to be and I hope that you are. I want to thank you for the impact that you've had on my life and the lives of so many others. Thank you so much for everything Spenser, I miss you and I'll never forget you.

"Just look at the good things"

Love, your buddy forever,


 My College Essay on Spenser Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version  
 Author:  JohannaFolk
 Dated:  Thursday, October 20 2005 @ 10:26 PM Eastern Daylight Time
We were like two peas in a pod, my cousin Spenser and I. Everything was fun and games, even after he was diagnosed with ganglio glioma, a rare form of brain tumor that eventually affected his breathing, vision, balance and ability to swallow. We played video games, went to the park, and performed circus acts in his living room for our parents to watch. At the age of two when you hear that your best friend will probably die within the next year, you don’t really grasp the idea; so, at first, his illness didn’t change anything between us.

Years went by, and Spenser fought his disease, defying all medical history. He endured three intense surgeries, the last one leaving him quadriplegic. Yet Spenser kept fighting. I always feared for the worst, but he never let his fears stop him from living. Soon after his third surgery and just two months after I gave my Bat Mitzvah, Spenser gave his before a standing room only audience. During his D’var Torah speech, Spenser spoke about sacrifices. “I make sacrifices every day by waiting and being patient for people to help me since I have many disabilities,” he said. “I do, however, have many abilities, and working hard to prepare for my bar mitzvah is one of them. A bar mitzvah is important to me because it is another step to becoming a teenager and continuing to meet the challenges and overcome the obstacles in life.” Even though his speech was slow and gurgly, Spenser spoke with determination and finished his entire service. For so many people a Bar Mitzvah is little more than an occasion to have a big party. On the contrary, for Spenser it held its intended purpose: it was a difficult struggle and a rite of passage.

At this point no one thought he would make it for much longer. Spenser’s illness left him fighting for every second of every day. Every conversation, hug, and “I love you,” seemed like it would be our last. Spenser proved us all wrong once again. Even though he continued to deteriorate, he still kept living. He never let his condition dishearten him, no matter how detrimental it became.

Spenser passed away this year at the age of sixteen, but his life and struggle have left a profound impact on me. Spenser taught me to measure people by their abilities rather than their disabilities. Even though he was in poor condition for the last years of his life, Spenser still did everything he could to enjoy himself. He never took anything for granted, realizing that every moment was precious. Just a few months before his death, he traveled to Massachusetts, rode a horse, and attended my younger sister’s Bat Mitzvah. He focused on what he could do, rather than what he couldn’t do.

Spenser also taught me to determine the value of things. We often take for granted even the simplest things such as breathing and eating, neither of which he could do on his own. Family, friends, and his wild assortment of pets, were what gave him the courage to fight as long as he did. Now whenever I argue with my sister or get angry with my parents, I think twice about it because I have learned that these things aren’t important in the long run. We should all cherish what we have, because it can easily be stripped away from us.

When we were younger, we used to love Shari Lewis’ song that goes, “This is the song that never ends. Yes, it goes on and on my friends.” Just like the song never ends, neither will Spenser’s memory and his impact on my life. Every night my family would pray for Spenser and say “to miracles,” hoping that some miracle cure would be discovered. Now that he is gone, I have come to realize that even though he never got his miracle cure, Spenser was the miracle that we were always waiting for.

 Grandma Sandy - Birthday Present Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version  
 Author:  Adam
 Dated:  Saturday, August 20 2005 @ 10:21 PM Eastern Daylight Time
Dear Spenser,

I received the best birthday present ever on August 20, 1988 when Mom called to tell me you were born. She said, "Happy Birthday, Mom, I don't think I can do this again". And what a gift you were -- all those seventeen years. I have a kaleidoscope of beautiful memories -- loving Lamb Chop, sitting in your little bedroom on Iowa Road, then Darley Road, learning about whales, dolphins, all kinds of animals and birds and, yes, even snakes. Reading "Where the Wild Things Are", playing with Thomas the Train, watching him and Winnie the Pooh on video, playing Pet Shop, doing the macarina, playing with action figures and so much more. Your writing beautiful poems and stories, and your amazing feat of your Bar-Mitzvah-what a celebration of your spirit and strength. Your making every minute of your life count, accomplishing things in school, in camp, at Mickey's and life in general. Most of all, your capacity to love, to be kind and positive and make the most of what you were able to do. I loved your sweet kisses and delightful sense of humor. Most of all,how with Mom and Dad and Adam and with other family, friends, care-givers and pets you managed to make life as full and beautiful as possible despite the pain and overwhelming challenges you faced. You were the first person to call me on our birthday. I will miss your doing so in person this year -- but I know your spirit will always be with me -- so I will celebrate the miracle of you. Happy Birthday Spenser. I will love you forever and -yes- continue to send you "smooches".

With all my love,

Grandma Sandy

 On Spenser's Birthday Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version  
 Author:  Anonymous
 Dated:  Saturday, August 13 2005 @ 12:56 PM Eastern Daylight Time
As Spenser's birthday approaches, we are overwhelmed by how close we feel to him. His selfless struggle, always thinking of others, will stay with us forever. He was completely genuine, never false. If only we all could emulate him. We will always love him.
Elinor and Mark (Furman)

 "Spenser inspired me every day that I spent with him" Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version  
 Author:  Scharfman Family
 Dated:  Wednesday, June 15 2005 @ 03:33 PM Eastern Daylight Time
Taking care of Spenser was never ‘work’ for me. Spenser made my job easy. He taught me not to ‘sweat’ the small stuff. No matter how hard his day was he kept smiling and working hard. Spenser never complained.

He went out of his way to make family and friends feel special. He would check his calendar when he woke up and call his loved ones on their birthday, anniversary, graduation and other special occasions to wish them well.

Whenever I arrived at Spenser’s he would greet me with a beautiful smile and immediately ask (very sincerely) how I was doing. Then he would ask ‘How’s Ray?’ my husband, and he really wanted to know. Then he would ask, ‘How’s Maggie?’ (my parents’ dog). I’ve never met anyone with a stronger connection to animals. Spenser was able to meet Maggie one Saturday afternoon. While I was working with Spenser, my parents stopped by with Maggie. Maggie had never been so calm and well behaved as she was with Spenser. He truly had a way with animals. There wasn’t an animal he didn’t love. He kept a picture of Maggie on his bulletin board.

Spenser taught me the ropes at Henry Viscardi. Spenser had to show me how to get everywhere. He knew his schedule by heart and he knew every short-cut and every hallway in that school (which was good for me because I had no idea where anything was the first few days of school). Going through the halls with Spenser was like accompanying a celebrity. Everyone loved him. Many people would stop and chat with him in the halls. Iman, one of Spenser’s close friends, would practically jump out of his chair at the sight of Spenser. Spenser got such a kick out of Iman’s reactions. Spenser also made sports announcements at school over the loudspeaker. He kept everyone up to date on the Yankees. He always managed to speak in a loud clear voice for the announcements. He really looked forward to it every week. Whenever one of his classmates was out sick he would call them after school to make sure that they were okay and to see how they were feeling. It was obvious that all of his classmates respected and cared about Spenser.

Spenser always amazed me in Spanish class. He picked things up so quickly and spoke the language so well. It came very naturally to him.

Outside of school he loved to play video games. Spenser was very good at all of the video games he played. Unfortunately, for Spenser’s sake, when Paul wasn’t around, he had to play them with me. Super Mario was one of the few games I could handle. As bad as I was at these games, he never got frustrated with me. Instead he would laugh and tell me to just start over. He was such a great sport.

Spenser also liked to read. He was always reading something. Even on top of all his school work (and he had a lot of homework!) he still found time to read. He loved going for walks around the neighborhood with Adam on sunny afternoons. He always looked forward to a nap with Joy after a tough day at school and she was always there when he got home.

Spenser loved children. He met my niece and nephew one afternoon. My sister stopped by to meet Spenser because she had heard so many wonderful things about him. He was so good with them and so very generous, sharing his books and beanie babies with them. He was always so generous; never selfish.

Spenser inspired me every day that I spent with him. He really made me want to be a better person and focus on what really matters in life…family, friends, generosity, laughter, kindness…the list goes on. I am so blessed to have been a part of his life. He was such a special person and will always have a place in my heart. I am so thankful for everything that he gave me.

Kathleen Sodora

 "I just fell in love with him" Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version  
 Author:  Scharfman Family
 Dated:  Wednesday, June 15 2005 @ 03:18 PM Eastern Daylight Time
My favorite memory of Spenser is when I first started with Stew, in ’91, and Spenser would come to the office to visit, with Joy and Adam. He was such a delicious little boy, I just fell in love with him. He used to run to me and climb up on my lap, at the front desk, and I would read to him from our collection of children’s books. His favorite was our son Stefan’s favorite book as a young child, “Sylvester, the Mouse with the Musical Ear”…I guess he had already developed a love for music. He loved that book so much, that I tried to get a copy, searching the out of print dealers to no avail, so I did the next best thing and made a copy of the entire book for him.

The other memory that stands out is his Bar Mitzvah. It was the most incredible experience to see him perform, from his wheelchair and do a job that would have been amazing for someone without his disabilities. His intelligence, compassion, strength and humor will forever be remembered.

It has been a privilege to know him.

Carolyn & Aaron Lichter

 Cherished by the HVS Faculty and Staff Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version  
 Author:  Scharfman Family
 Dated:  Wednesday, June 15 2005 @ 03:12 PM Eastern Daylight Time
I was called aside on a very special day
A new entity would be provided to guide my way
A family would be waiting, both loving and kind
There was one tiny flaw; I was asked if I’d mind

Taking hold of life, I would walk a mile
“I really don’t mind,” I replied with a smile
“I’ll be grateful for each day and happy to be a part
Of the joy and sadness that will fill my heart”

It wasn’t always easy and I tried to do my best
With lessened attributes that had to be addressed
My family was wonderful and understood my needs
Fulfilling my lifetime with their steadfast deeds

Joy is my mom, and a true joy be it told
A devoted mother and Nurse whom I will forever behold
Stewart, my dad, a Physical Therapist as he is known
Inspired me with strength by the devotion he had shown

Adam, is a student and cellist; my devoted brother
My very best friend, whom I’d call none other
My caretakers each, being nurturing and caring
Fulfilled my existence in their time of sharing

Each day became the first day of the rest of my life
I openly met its obstacles with continuance in strife
My classmates were nice, treating me with respect
Their lasting friendships had a most positive effect

I loved poetry, and the movies, or riding a horse
Listening to others, while judging fairly of course
I had a great sense of humor; a generous smile
A warm and friendly outlook was part of my style

One action may speak louder than a word
For I displayed my feelings when I couldn’t be heard
I’d wink and smile in a positive moment seized
Or I’d give the “big evil eye” when I felt displeased

My pets were a blessing, they filled me with awe
Be it “Elvis” slithering or Jessie and Mocha giving paw
Sandy and Hugga Bugga preferred to hide
Their shells providing safety from the predators outside

The Yankees were my favorite; a team to embrace
They’re able to win or lose without losing face
I enjoyed drums and summer camp; the welfare of a pet
Even informally apprenticing with a local Vet

My Jewish heritage I countered with pride
The Temple and my family would always abide
I embraced my Bar Mitzvah; proud to become a man
It was all a part of my mission’s greater plan

I loved sharing my life with family and friends
Encountering new experiences that life extends
I continued to meet obstacles that life would convey
While challenging their limitations without dismay

But fate speaks louder than any man can voice
And there comes a time to meet destiny’s choice
I desired to stay, but the hour was late
My mission was completed, for time does not wait

I came to a curve on that long winding path
Leaving loved ones and friends in the aftermath
My spirit soared high as I ascended above
Surrounded by peace and everlasting love
-A. Courtesis

Read at a Memorial for Spenser held at Henry Viscardi School on May 27th

 "He lit up each and every one of our days" Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version  
 Author:  Scharfman Family
 Dated:  Wednesday, June 15 2005 @ 02:50 PM Eastern Daylight Time
Each and every day we would be blessed with Spenser’s positive energy.

Although Spenser was faced with a lot of difficult situations and daily challenges, he always remained positive, sweet and he was always sensitive to how others were feeling.

Despite all his challenges and difficulties, Spenser persevered and he arrived in medical every day with a never-ending beautiful smile and of course his famous one-eyed wink.

He lit up each and every one of our days; no matter how bad he might have been feeling.
He would spend a lot of time in medical with us each day. We miss his beautiful presence along with his wonderful, caring nurses, Dinah, Kevin, Susan, Veronica, Kathleen, Danielle and others.
All the nurses of Henry Viscardi School would like to present Spenser’s devoted family, with a Butterfly Tree to plant in [their] garden in Spenser’s memory.

The butterflies it attracts represent rebirth, change and transformation. Every butterfly that visits will represent and remind [them] of Spenser’s beautiful, smiling being and his everlasting presence. He is at peace.

We will always cherish the silk roses he gave each of us on Valentine’s Day this year. They will remind us of his sweetness and generosity.
Although we will miss Spenser’s physical presence, we will always keep him with us in our hearts and memories.

From the Nurses at Henry Viscardi School
Read at Memorial for Spenser on May 27th

 For Spenser Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version  
 Author:  Scharfman Family
 Dated:  Wednesday, June 15 2005 @ 01:20 PM Eastern Daylight Time

To some people you never get acquainted
Though you have known them for oh so long,
And to other very special people,
In just minutes the love becomes strong.

One foot in that house off Darley,
Three people to warm your heart,
A few more steps toward the back of the house,
A fourth person to give your whole life a new start.

Four people to hold on to each other,
And define the true meaning of why we are here,
One person with enough love for thousands,
Who taught his community how not to fear.

Maybe G-d will send us to Heaven,
Or maybe our souls will stay near by,
But surely there is one special angel named Spenser,
Who’s spirit stays eternal so our eyes will stay dry.

Van Frankel

 "Let Spenser be a model to us all" Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version  
 Author:  Scharfman Family
 Dated:  Wednesday, June 15 2005 @ 01:16 PM Eastern Daylight Time
Today a very special person died. His name-Spenser Scharfman, age-16. At the age of three a tumor grew in his brain. The doctors said he’d only live for three more years. He lived for 13 more. He went to Lakeville with us, did homework with us. I went over to his house a lot. We played video games, ate tomatoes-he always had a big bowl of them on his dining room table. I helped him walk through the house. We would sit in his room talking, or sneak into his brother’s room to look at his lava lamp. We made up a nonsense language that we pretended to understand. We played with his turtles, Hugga Bugga and Sandy. We looked in his snake Elvis’ cage to try and see where he was sleeping. I taught him how to go down the stairs by himself, just bump your way down on your butt. We did it together. I remember Spenser’s first dog Oliver. I was scared of him, and I remember one day I was at his house, and Oliver went out the door, and he ran away, and I went with Spenser’s mom Joy and his brother Adam chasing after Oliver. Oliver got run over. Spenser got a new dog, Jessie. We played with Jessie a lot. I love that dog. Jessie taught me to like dogs. She knew Spenser was different than other people, and she cared for him and looked out for him. We always asked Flo for those chocolate pieces. I had my first glass of rice milk at his house. Then after Lakeville, he went to Henry Viscardi School for disabled students and continued as a normal kid. I still went over to his house, and we walked in the park by the pool with his aides saying how we would build a tree house with a ramp, just for us. And we wouldn’t tell anyone else about it. And then he had surgery to remove a portion of the tumor, and he became quadriplegic. And I still went over to his house, and I played video games by myself because he liked to watch. I went to his Bar Mitzvah, he read the Torah, I was so proud of him. Then I became a busy high school kid with new friends, activities and problems, and we lost touch. I haven’t seen him for a year or two. I heard that he was studying for his SATs with his dad, just like us.

Spenser was an amazing kid. He wanted everyone to be happy; he would tell me to go away if I was in a bad mood. He was determined, always pushing to live as normal as he could, doing his homework and seeing friends, along with getting treatments throughout the day, physical therapy and mental therapy to reduce the tumor size. Yet he always accepted that he was disabled, and he never let it get him down. He was an amazing person, a model for those with the same problem for how much they can accomplish in their lifetime. Spenser was only supposed to live until he was six. He lived until today, at sixteen years old. Let Spenser be a model to us all, to be determined in fighting through life’s problems, any bad thing thrown our way. Let him be a model for a great friend, someone always there to listen and make you laugh. Thank you Spenser for being in my life. Even if we haven’t seen each other for a few years, you mean something to me, you’ve impacted my life and yours, I. I won’t forget all the great times we had together, being silly and being serious. I will never forget our friendship.

Seth Caplan