As long as I’m living, my mommy you’ll be
This post is a shout out to the one and only Denise Sprandio.
This one is a few weeks late (should have been posted on Mother’s Day and then on my mom’s birthday), but I’m never on time so it’s fitting it’s late.
Denise Sprandio is the 5th of a family of 7. She is a former nurse, the wife of John Sprandio, the mother of five kids, grandmother to 3 (soon to be 4 and probably many more) and good friend to many. She is a beautiful, strong, hilarious woman. She is loyal and honest. She has a bigger heart than anyone you will ever meet. She is extraordinarily generous. She’s the kind of person who makes you feel like you’ve known her for years after just meeting her. She is welcoming and happy to open her home to anyone for a warm meal and a good laugh.
The older I have gotten, the more I understand the saying, “Your mother is always right.” My mom is always right. Although I may not act like it sometimes, I do listen and take everything she says into consideration. While I might not always agree, I do understand where she is coming from and I respect her opinion. Obviously, I don’t understand completely, and I probably won’t fully comprehend it until I have my own children one day, but I know in my heart she is coming from a place of love.
My mom and I have a close relationship. I am her only girl. She is not only my mother, but one of my best friends. I feel comfortable asking her anything and we talk about a range of topics, from the Kardashians, to my most recent decision to get married. Our conversations never cease to amuse me, enlighten me, and inspire me.
I love when she tells stories of us growing up and how happy she was to be a mother. It sounds like it was a complete madhouse at times. Before I was born, she had three little boys in diapers while my dad was still going through medical training. I don’t know how she did it, but the way she looks when she talks about it is inspiring. When I came along all hell broke loose! I loved my childhood and the time I was able to spend with both of my parents and with my brothers. We are a very close family. I am so lucky to be able to call them not only my family, but also my friends. My brothers were my first friends. I can thank my mom for that. Family is very important to her and she has shared that with all of us.
Recently, she was talking to my younger brother and me. We were talking about her brother, Robert, who passed away a year ago this May. She told us how hard it has been to deal with the reality that she no longer has her big brother. He was the only boy of the family. She got filled up, but she stayed strong and she stressed to us how important it is to stay close with family. “They are your first friends and they are the ones who will always be there for you no matter what.” She said she knows we are all developing our own lives, but to never forget where we came from and never forget those who have been there from the start. This is invaluable advice considering her children have started and are beginning to start their own lives. I can’t wait to have my family and Zach’s family over for holidays and birthday parties etc, just like my mom has done. I can’t wait to create my own welcoming environment where people can come to reminisce and laugh together. I can only hope I can create the type of environment she has created for my family and our friends.
It has been a hard year for my mom with the loss of her brother and with many other changes occurring in our family. Her strength and determination to continue on and help us through times like this is amazing. I don’t know where she finds this inner strength, but she finds it and, like everything, she shares it with us.
Even though conversations like that are hard to have, I appreciate her being vulnerable in front of us. I now know my mom not just as my mom, but as a real, fellow human being. That sounds strange when I reread it, but when I was young, I saw my parents as these invincible people. I believed they could do anything and nothing could ever harm them. While I still believe they are both invincible, I have come to see a vulnerability in them that I wasn’t aware they had.
As I have grown, I have begun to see my mom and dad in a different light. They need us just as we need them. I’m very grateful that I can be a shoulder for my mom to cry on, just as she has been a shoulder for me for so many years. And I have shed many a tear over the years, mostly unnecessary ones. I can be a bit dramatic. Not many know that, but my mom could tell you it’s the truth. We have had our fair share of bickering and exaggerated arguments. But all we need is a few hours of thinking on our own, and before long we are back together again gossiping about my brothers, celebrities, and planning my future.
Before she created a family, my mom was a dedicated, talented nurse at Temple Hospital. So, she has not only raised five children, but she spent many years before that caring for strangers. Nursing is an admirable profession and I admire her greatly for the work she did. She has literally spent her whole life caring for others. She is seriously a super hero.
The time and energy she spent with my brothers and me has made us who we are today. I think we are a pretty good crew. We are all doing our own thing and creating our own lives. Between the five of us we have 11 degrees: 5 bachelor’s degrees, two MD degrees, 4 masters degrees, and my youngest brother is just beginning school for his PhD (sorry just a little bragging moment). We wouldn’t have been able to do any of it without our parents. Literally, we wouldn’t even be in existence. But let’s not talk about how we all actually came into existence. This isn’t that kind of post.
Preparing for my wedding with my mom has taken us to a new level of our relationship. When Zach and I got engaged, my mom was the first person I called. She knew it was going to happen because Zach had spoken to her and my dad two days before. We were walking back from the art museum when I called her. I hadn’t cried yet, which I thought I would cry right away when I got engaged. She answered and I said mom, I’m engaged. She said, “Oh, Kate! My baby girl!” I totally lost it. I could hear her crying and I started crying right away.
She was thrilled for me. At that moment, I felt like a grown up and I felt like everything I’ve done so far in life was right. Not that I feel like I’ve done wrong things, but of any decision I’ve made, I wanted approval for this one. And the one person in the world whose opinion I value the most was happy and proud of the biggest decision I have ever made in my life. It was an overwhelming moment for me, as I’m sure it was for her too.
When we went back to my parents’ house that night, both my mom and dad had smiles on their faces that I’ll never forget. They were smiles of not only happiness, but of contentment. I know I have made them proud with everything I’ve accomplished in my life, but this was a different type of proud I think. That whole night was surreal and my experience thus far with planning has been relatively easy thanks to my parents.
The other night my mom and I talked for a couple hours. We hadn’t really been alone to talk in the last couple months because both of our lives have been so busy. We talked about marriage and she told me how proud she was of me and how she thinks Zach is a good man. It was nice to talk with her and share my thoughts on this whole experience. She also said what she has been saying since I met Zach, “You make sure he knows how special you are. Don’t keep saying you are lucky to have him. You make sure he knows how lucky he is!”
I’m sure I could write a whole book about my mom, but I’ll just keep it to this. I know she is reading, because she reads everything I write. I don’t think people realize what that means to someone who writes, whether it be fiction or nonfiction. To have someone who cares enough to read the words you write, makes it worth spending the time putting the words down.
So here’s to Denise Sprandio, a daughter, sister, mother, grandmother, aunt, mother-in-law, friend, the list goes on.
This is a thank you, a happy birthday, and a happy anniversary to the best woman I know.
I love you mom.