by Dan Spoone
This month’s issue of “The ACB Braille Forum” focuses on ACB Women. This encouraged me to think about the women that have made a major impact in my life. My mom, Patricia Ann Lovette Spoone, quickly jumped to the top of the list. She was a tremendous role model for me, and she is the best listener I have ever known. I’ve been so very lucky to have her in my life. She is turning 91 on March 15, and we treasure every day with her.
Mom grew up in the Depression, and has carried those lessons with her for her entire life. Mom is frugal to a fault. She always has a smile in her voice, and she approaches life with a positive attitude.
Mom was an only child. She was a star basketball player for her dad and the editor of the Morristown High School newspaper for her mom. She married her high school sweetheart, Bill Spoone, after dating him for seven years through high school and college.
Mom was the first person in her family to graduate from college at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. Mom had a unique experience in her middle school years. Her dad was chosen to work on the Manhattan Project, to develop the atomic bomb. Her family moved to Oak Ridge, Tenn. during War World II. She credits this experience with providing her an understanding of people from different backgrounds and cultures. Oak Ridge was built from the ground up in a valley in the hills of Tennessee. “Everyone was from somewhere else,” says Mom. “There were only four different models of houses, we all went to the same school, and there were no established cliques of people that thought they were better than others.”
Mom went back to school at 38 and received her master’s in counseling from Rollins College in Winter Park, Fla. She became a high school guidance counselor for the last 20 years of her career. She decided to quit smoking at the age of 40 and started jogging every afternoon after school. She had very strong willpower when she put her mind to it, and did not eat desserts for 50 years. She started eating desserts again at 90 and claims that you need to do something to put fun in your life. She says at 90 there are not a lot of options, so she’s going for the pecan pie and ice cream.
My mom realized that I had an eye condition early in my childhood. Specialists confirmed that I had retinitis pigmentosa (RP) when I was six. Mom was my biggest supporter through school, advocating for me with my teachers. She sat with me each night to help me learn how to read, and my parents found the extra money to send me to a reading tutor.
But what really set my mom apart was her high expectations for me. She pushed me to excel at my schoolwork. She pushed me out into the neighborhood to play with my friends. She treated me just the same as my sister. There were no favors or lower expectations.
The happiest day in her life was the day I married Leslie. She was so happy that I found someone to love. We should all take a moment to remember and thank the women in our lives that have given so much of their time, talent and heart to be part of our lives. Patricia Ann Lovette Spoone, thank you! You are the reason that I’ve become the man I am. I hope I have made Dad and you proud. I’m sure glad you are my mom. Happy birthday!