Searching For Spenser: A Mother’s Journey Through Grief


By Author Margaret Kramar

This book is a reminder that living with a most difficult and painful thing gives us choices. Making the right one makes all the difference. Margaret Kramar has written this story for all the right reasons. And no matter who you are, you will find yourself in these pages.

       ~ Maryemma Graham, University of Kansas Distinguished Professor & Founder/Director, Project on the History of Black Writing. Parenting can be a struggle; especially parenting a disabled child. In this flawlessly written memoir, Kramar describes championing her son, diagnosed with Sotos syndrome, through his short life. Searching For Spenser: a Mother’s Journey Through Grief examines the experience of loving and losing a child and reminds us that there is a way forward through the pain and suffering. The wounds, although soul deep, do heal allowing a way to live, love, and laugh again. Kramar’s memoir offers guidance, wisdom and inspiration. It not only speaks to those who have children with disabilities and those who have lost a child, but also those who seek an amazing and surprising story of redemption and hope. In Searching for Spenser, Kramar explores how she was transformed through the experience of Spenser’s life and death. Writing became a creative outlet for her grief and allowed her to share her story with others. “Star Wars,” a chapter from Searching for Spenser, appeared in Echoes from the Prairie in 2013; “The Birthday Party,” another chapter, appeared in Exceptional Parent magazine in 2008, and a short story about Spenser was anthologized in Reading Lips: And Other Ways to Overcome a Disability published by Apprentice House in 2008. What makes a good parent? What defines success? How do we face loneliness and despair? Kramar searches for the answers to these questions after her son Spenser is diagnosed with Soto syndrome. She is forced to look honestly at her life as a single parent of two sons—one who is disabled, whom she fiercely loves. After she attains success in her career, Margaret eagerly anticipates motherhood. When she gives birth to her second child Spenser, who suffers from developmental delays, she is devastated because her life has centered on achievement. Although Spenser overcomes the gloomy medical prognosis cast at his birth, her husband cannot reconcile his disappointment and begins drifting away from the family. One day she comes home to a house with some of the furniture gone and the bank accounts emptied. After the divorce, Margaret struggles as a single mother. She barely scrapes by, and is lonely and exhausted from working full-time and maintaining a household by herself with two small boys. She meets an interesting man at a dance and is swept up into a passionate romance, but he is reluctant to marry her because he does not want to commit to her children. As his most ardent cheerleader, Margaret encourages Spenser to transcend the arbitrary limits of his disability. Spenser flourishes, emerging as a happy child who loves to act, dance, and draw. One spring day, while the other children are playing, Spenser clings to his mother at the school carnival because he is tired. She takes him to the hospital on a Sunday night, and in a startling turn of events, he dies the following Monday afternoon. After his death, Margaret questions whether she ever really knew her child. She searches for him in the memories of former teachers, relatives and friends, embarking on a journey that takes her beyond the grave, even to a psychic at Lily Dale, while she finds support and solace in the monthly meetings of The Compassionate Friends. However, Spenser refuses to lie forgotten in his grave. Through the visions of others, Spenser communicates with Margaret so that she realizes she has not lost him after all. A graduate of Grinnell College, Margaret Kramar received an MA in journalism from the University of Iowa. Subsequently employed as lifestyle editor for the Denison Newspapers, her work received awards from the Iowa Press Association Better Newspaper Contest and Herbert Bayard Swopes Memorial Awards. In 2012 she received a PhD in English from the University of Kansas and taught English composition, drama and American literature. Previous to the PhD, she was employed for twenty years as a civil rights investigator by the Kansas Human Rights Commission. Her work has appeared in Contemporary American Women: Our Defining Passages, The Grinnell Magazine, newspapers, anthologies and print and digital publications. She and her family live on a small farm in northeast Kansas where they produce organically grown fruits, vegetables and free-range eggs. Please contact the author at:




searching for spenser: A Mother’s journey through grief

FORMAT: Soft cover

ISBN: 978-1-941237-18-2


ISBN: 978-1-941237-21-2

PUBLICATION DATE: november 10, 2018

Additional information


Soft cover, Hard cover