Audrey Mae SpencerSpencer Historical CemeteryHenry Straight / William Spencer Family Cemetery
Vaughn Historical CemeterySpencers of East Greenwich, RI
12 June 2002

Daughter Crystal’s Home

Glimpses of the Past: Morning Conversations with Audrey Mae

Phone Conversations every Wednesday at 8:30 AM (EST)

June 12, 2002 through February 19, 2003
(daughter Crystal’s home, West Warwick, Rhode Island)

Author’s note:  The origin of this note-taking was a daughter just writing down the casual phone conversations between her mother and herself It was only after months of jotting down these tidbits of subject matter that I realized the gold mine of knowledge that I had amassed. I, then, decided to put these conversations together as my mother’s memoirs.  Enjoy! Keep reading to learn about a woman whose 95 year life span connected colonial Rhode Island farm life to modern day, from the horse and buggy age to space travel to the moon.  As Audrey’s niece Jean commented “Aunt Audrey was so ‘enthusiastic’ about life. She taught me so much…” or as her granddaughter Belinda commented “she was such a unique and special woman. I know I have a lot of her spirit in me.”

18 March 2003

Alpine Nursing Home

March 18, 2003 Audrey Moves to Alpine Nursing Home
(Alpine Nursing Home, Coventry, Rhode Island)

21 June 2003

Alpine Nursing Home

Weekly Phone Conversations change from Wednesdays to every Saturday at 8:30AM (EST)

June 21, 2003 through September 4, 2004
(Alpine Nursing Home, Coventry, Rhode Island)

11 September 2004

Sequel to

Glimpses of the Past: Morning Conversations with Audrey Mae

Phone Conversations every Saturday at 8:30 AM (EST)

September 11, 2004 through November 27, 2004

(Alpine Nursing Home, Coventry, Rhode Island)

December 5, 2004 through March 11, 2007

(Kent Regency Nursing Home, Warwick, Rhode Island)

5 December 2004

Kent Regency Nursing Home

December 5, 2004 Audrey moves to Kent Regency Nursing Home
(Kent Regency Nursing Home, Warwick, Rhode Island)

10 December 2004

Email from Crystal to inform Heather that her mother has been moved from one home to another home:

“Today will be the fourth day Mom has been in her new home (Kent Regency Nursing Home) Mom sang happy birthday to me in front of the speech therapist. Mom talked more than I have heard her say at one time, since I talked with her on the phone November 10th.”

10 December 2004

Heather’s conversation with Speech Therapist, Doreen Tierney, at Kent Regency while Audrey was listening:

“Audrey has aphasia.  Audrey can’t get the words out”, said the Speech Therapist.

We will keep working with a resident as long as the therapist sees progress.  Because Audrey is educated and intelligent, she has a better chance of improving because of the benefit of her well developed, inquisitive mind. Singing songs, reciting poems  is “an automatic thing” and is easier to do then to see and/or hear and then have the brain receive and register the reaction and response and then have the related speech finish the thought, speaking process.  It is easier to recall, then to start from scratch and begin a sentence or answer a question said Doreen Tierney, Speech Therapist at Kent Regency.

[At this time Audrey was in her nineties and the medical profession could not be sure whether Audrey had had a stroke, a TIA or whether it was the early beginnings of dementia.  Rather than the descriptive term dementia, I  prefer to use the modern terminology of “imaginary thinking”.  Imaginary thinking does not have the negative connotation that the word dementia brings to mind.]

[Audrey’s mind had always been very keen, except for the one phone call I had with her at Alpine on 6-19-2004 that concerned me greatly.  My heart sank as I listened to this one sided conversation].

On June 19, 2004 Audrey’s imaginary thinking was as follows: “Edith, my sister, she’s living you know (Edith had died on 12-8-1991) and she’s getting married to Bill Capprell.  I told Edith he can’t dance.  He has a sore leg. (My aunt Edith was a great dancer as a coed.) The Campbells they hate the MacDonalds (Folklore in Scottish history but our next door neighbor, Jennie Campbell was Audrey’s wonderful older friend who was like a second mother to Audrey and helped Audrey with the babies.) (There was a) holiday special (here).  Four older lady singers and waltz dance.  There are five or six groups come and they are so cute. Oh, Heather being here (with the) two green scrapbooks and one red one. That’s so good to look at them.  I stayed up until 2 o’clock looking at the scrapbook. Oh, I got some news to tell you at Alpine.  I don’t think I’m coo-coo, but I go like a flash…Heather, I can walk out of this house and get in your car.  I can walk ever since. My feet still seem a little heavy (but) I go in the bathroom (without assistance). I always dream everything with the eyes open.  I dreamed something and hurried out of bed.  I’m walking. I’m walking.  When you look through books it takes forever. On the fourth of July, Mother made clam cakes and chowder. Uncle Ed helped.  We all went to Connecticut on July 4th.  June 2nd (is my wedding) anniversary.  Mr. Buecker (pastor at Knotty Oak Baptist Church) married us in (family home at 742 Washington Street in Coventry) the living room.  We walked out of Grandpa’s room into the parlor, in front of the couch and in front of shelf with clock.  This was (one of the) last home wedding made. Next (tradition changed to have) had wedding at Churches.  Everybody was there. Seven Mile Road house (Audrey and Milton’s first home which was built by Audrey’s father, a professional carpenter). We bought land from Aunt Jeannie [Jeannie Campbell] on East Greenwich Avenue. Oh yes, I’m full of life now and walking a bit. I remember Prince (the family horse when Audrey was a child on the farm).  I was scared of him.  Wouldn’t go near him.  I’m still scared of everything.  I wouldn’t go out to the mailbox in the dark if you paid me.”

(Heather: How did you learn to read?)

“She (Audrey’s mother, Mary Jane) was always reading.  I didn’t do much reading before I went to school. The Sunday paper would come and then I would draw from the paper. (I have a) new roommate.  She’s a tiny little thing, walks along and also reads all the newspaper.

[End of conversation with Audrey on 6-19-2004.  This conversation on 6-19-2004 concerned me greatly.  The prevailing thought was that this was just a temporary lapse of Audrey’s reality as Audrey was fine after this conversation on 6-19-2004 and did not appear confused after this one episode of confusion.  After the initial conversation of her talking about walking and talking about her sister as if her sister were still alive, Audrey’s mind came back to reality as it was for her before her 6-19-2004 one-sided- conversation.]

8 February 2005

Kent Regency Nursing Home

Conversations during Heather’s Family Medical Leave Act’s (FMLA’s) visits to Audrey who was no longer using the telephone
(Kent Regency Nursing Home, Warwick, Rhode Island)