Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.


Who Else?

What do you do when you have to do something you really don’t want to do?

Maybe you don’t want to because you’re not sure how to do it. Maybe you just don’t like it. Or maybe you’re afraid you won’t be able to do it the way you ought to, but you have to, so you’ve got to find a way.

What do you do?

For me, the answer to that strange and winding question is–I CALL MY SIBLING!

Luckily, I have four sisters and a brother to choose from.

I’ve always told my kids that the best friends they’ll ever have in life are their siblings. They’ll be there for you when you really need them, and you absolutely want to be there for them. Always.

Why should it be true that the best friends you’ll ever have are your sibs?

Because you and your sibs have the same history. Were taught the same values. You have the same blood.

You played together, worked together, cried together, went on vacations together. You grew up together–at least you grew older together. 🙂

These are the people who, even though they know all the bad things about you, also remember all the good things. And they love you anyway.

And otherwise, your mama will smack you. 🙂

Who else truly understands the depth of tragedy when you suddenly lose your mother?

Who else gets the joy you have being with your dad?

Who else knows family history back to the beginning of time?

Who else met God the way you did?

Who else can you tell your secrets and rest assured they’ll never be repeated?

Who else will walk through fire for you?

Friends are wonderful.
Children are a joy.
A loving husband is a gift from God!

But siblings are absolutely necessary.

Besides, who else can you be sure will goose you when you’re taking a picture?


Memory Tricks

Have you ever noticed that people with the same memories remember them in different ways? It happens with my sibs and me. None of us fib about what we remember, we just don’t have perfect recall.

Go figure.

For instance, the time Omega came home from playing with her BFF. Sitting at the dinner table, she said, “Pass the d*** corn.” (Today her BFF is a beautiful, talented woman who loves the Lord with all her heart. She just mimicked her big brothers once in a while when she was too young to know better, and Amy mimicked her.)

I remember the D*** Corn episode happening in our kitchen. Omega believes it happened at Grandmother’s house (next door) in the dining room. Where did it really happen? Since she was maybe two years old, and I’m a few (clears throat) years older, I believe I’m right. But in all honesty, I’m not sure.

Remember the story I told about Brother Jeffrey killing the squirrel and hanging it as a trophy from the ceiling light fixture in the middle of his room? After he read my blog that day, he told me it wasn’t a squirrel. It was a rabbit. (He did shoot it through the eye, I think.)

I probably should have asked Sister Debbie. 🙂 I’ll bet she never forgets.

We aren’t the only siblings who have these problems. Sometimes Uncle Frank will tell me about something he did, and when I recount the story to Dad he says, “That wasn’t Frank. I did it.”

When Dad was eighteen, he went to Oklahoma A & M in Stillwater for a year. (Now known as Oklahoma Spess University–at least in my mind.) When he first started, he often hitchhiked back and forth to Old Ford on the weekends.

Granddad didn’t like Dad hitchhiking, so he bought him a car.

Uncle Frank remembers it as being Granddad’s car rather than my dad’s. Dad disagrees.

It doesn’t just happen to siblings, either. In our romance writers’ group, we used to have a blurb writing contest for our unpublished members. In one hundred words or less, we had to tell what your book is about–like on the back of a book.

One year I won that contest. The next year when we were discussing it, someone asked, “Who won it last year?”

Without blinking an eye, one of my critique partners answered, “I did.”


“You did?” I thought about it really hard before I went on. “Then why did I frame that certificate saying I did?”

The only thing I could figure is that she thought she should have won. 🙂 Continue reading



On this day when I was ten years old, Aunt Phyllis and Grandmother took me, Sister Deb, Tinny-Woo-Woo and #4 to the fair. Joanie, Phyllis’s daughter, went with us, too.

We had a great time, riding rides and seeing the animals and exhibits. Once in a while Grandmother had to sit down and rest, but most of the day was spent rushing from one ride to another. I don’t remember if we bought lunch or took sandwiches. (If the parents had been along, we definitely would have taken sandwiches. Mom was convinced Fair Food would poison us.)

Mom and Dad didn’t go to the fair, because Mom was having a baby. Our youngest sister was barely fifteen months old. So after a long day at the fair, Aunt Phyllis decided to go past the hospital and see if the baby had been born.

Back in those days, parents didn’t know what sex their babies were going to be, so they had to have two names picked out. Up until that baby–before I was born, Sister Debbie, Tinny and #4–the chosen boy name had always been Christopher Darwin.

I didn’t mind Christopher so much, but the Darwin didn’t float my childish boat. The good thing is, before kid number five was born, they changed the boy to be name to Jeffrey. Much better!

So back to that fair day so very long ago–

After the day at the fair, Aunt Phyllis decided to drive to the hospital and see if the baby had been born. The rest of us had to sit in the dark car, parked on the street in front of the hospital. (That’ll tell you how long ago this happened. You haven’t been able to park on the street in front of the hospital in a long, LONG time.)

So we waited. And waited. And waited. It seemed like another entire day passed before that front door opened again. When it did, Aunt Phyllis came running out of the hospital, her hair flying behind her, a big grin on her face.

She flew up to the car and, yanking open the door, jumped inside. “It’s a boy! It’s a boy, if it’s not a mistake!!!”

I still laugh about that last line.

There were times when he was a kid that I thought it might have been, well, not a mistake but maybe a misstep. But when he stopped crying all the time, I was thrilled to have that brother.

Maybe it’s because he’s a male, but the guy has always seen things a little bit different than the Spess Girls. When we saw a rabbit, we wondered if it had babies. When he saw one, he saw an opportunity to hunt.

A pond or lake was a great place to swim or tan for the sisters, a place for him to fish. Summers were for playing ball and spending time at the pool for the girls, a time for our bro to go to work with Granddad and Dad.

I liked to knit. He liked to use my yarn to tie me up when I fell asleep over my needles.

Later, he taught me to play tennis and loaned me his six gun for a Halloween costume. (After checking twice to make sure it wasn’t loaded.)

And when we got a call one night at the folks house that my house was on fire (G-Man was working) he was the one who went with me. (He made the mistake of thinking I couldn’t drive in an emergency such as that. Snort!)

He finally grew up, went to college, married and had kids of his own. Great kids, who I enjoy practically as much as I enjoy him.

He’s the kind of guy I enjoy talking to, who has a one-on-one relationship with the Lord and isn’t embarrassed to tell you about it.

The day we lost so many family members to a drunk driver, when nearly every person I knew was at the hospital with Omega, Brother Jeffrey saw our car arrive at the hospital and was the one who met us at our car door. He was there, ready to comfort and be comforted.

Loving us.

Remembering with us that, while Mama was no longer with us, she wasn’t lost. We knew exactly where she landed–in the arms of our Lord, telling Him how thrilled she was to see Him face to face.

Some people tolerate their siblings. I’m one of those people who knows how incredibly lucky she is to have the brother and sisters God gave her. Every one is so very special!

Happy birthday, Jeffrey! I’m so glad it wasn’t a mistake!!!

Read more about the World’s Best Brother here.


Ready For Some Football?

C-Town starts out each year playing our fiercest rivals. The ones who’ve beat us nearly as many times as we’ve beat them. (And, boy! Does it hurt!)

There was a time when that town beat us year after year. And they beat us bad! Once I remember a score of 12 to 72. (C-Town Tigers were 12.) It was an ugly night!

But this year (just a century or so after the 72 to 12 debacle) we got a little pay back.

I have two nephews on the team, she said her chest puffing with pride.

That’s the two of them, discussing strategy  during a lull in the game.

#83 even made the news!

Watch all the way to the end to see it.

Both nephews played most (if not the entire) game. And their sisters were there. Let me show you.

These are #83’s sisters with the blonde’s foster child.

This is #14’s sister.

This is #14’s nephew and my son.

Omega’s baby daughter with #14’s nephew.

 Omega’s older daughter. Her t-shirt says, My 2 favorite teams are C-Town Tigers and anyone who beats Hominy. 🙂

That’s not all the family I had a the game, but I should show you there were other people there besides Spess offspring.

This is a sweet girl who goes to the same church I do. If you look closely, you’ll see handprints on her arms in paint. They’re on her legs, too. I saw a lot of kids with hand prints on them, but I didn’t hear the reason for it. Looked cute, though!

This little cutie was cheering for #24. She did a fantastic job! (I think #24 made one of the touchdowns!)

I couldn’t end this without showing you our tiger! I think it’s adorable. Oh, and the final score?

47-7 C-Town! Not exactly 12-72 but close enough. 🙂


BB’s Birthday

It’s Baby Boy’s birthday. Let’s celebrate!

This is my baby boy. Not much of a baby, but he’ll always be mine. He’s such a funny kid.

He’s my only child who has been organized from the beginning of time. He doesn’t just keep things put away, he organizes his time. His studies. His money. You name it, and he’ll find a way to take care of it.

Before Brad started school, as we were getting ready to go on a vacation one year, he said, “What about my other brother?”

“Your brothers are going.” I pointed at my older boys. “See? Danny and Matt. They’re ready to go.”

“No. My other brother.” BB was getting a little frustrated with me by this time. “At Miss Kimmy’s.”


“Little Bradley. He’s my brother, too.” Little Bradley was his best bud at Miss Kimmy’s–their babysitter. They were always together, even at church. I guess he thought since their names were the same (both Bradley) and he liked him so much, they had to be brothers.

Since I didn’t have the strength to handle another boy, I quickly explained he didn’t have another brother, and while he was a very nice boy, he couldn’t be Brad’s brother because Little Brad’s mom, whose name was also Susan, would cry too much.

Escaped that one by the skin of my teeth! 😉

When he was in 3rd or 4th grade, BB had appendicitis and nearly scared the liver out of me. That was an outpatient procedure (go figure that one) and less than twenty-four hours later when he went home, that tiny little boy had some heavy duty pain pills. So heavy duty, when he tried to leave a room once (I’d turned loose of him to get something) he missed the door and hit the wall.

But he survived, and now has a nice scar to show for it.

On Easter Sunday 1995, BB was baptised into Christ. Three days later, Timothy McVeigh murdered 168 men, women and children, 19 of whom were under the age of six in Oklahoma City.  

When BB was in middle school or early in high school, he decided he wanted to be an orthodontist. Here’s why–he’d thought his teeth were so ugly before he had braces (they weren’t that bad) he wouldn’t smile. And he didn’t talk to people much because he didn’t want them to see. 

His beautiful teeth made such a difference to him, he wanted to be able to do that for other kids.  

Top and bottom retainers

Image via Wikipedia


BB is now a college graduate, engaged to marry a beautiful and brilliant girl. (I love it when my children marry beautiful, smart girls who are from this area so I don’t have to worry about them moving close to HER parents. I need my kids and grandkids close by.)

We’re hoping he’ll get into dental school next fall. All fingers and toes crossed on that one. (If you have any pull in that area, please use it for us!) And, no surprise, he’s very good at working with children. I’m not sure he still plans to be an orthodontist, but he wants to have a pediatric practice. (Gotta give him kudos for that!)

Because of my sons, I understand why the Psalmist wrote, “Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from him.” Psalm 127:2.

Sons may be the pride of their father, but they’re the heart of their mother.

One more story–after the wreck when we lost most of the women in our lives, I felt very alone. I couldn’t even feel God anymore (even though I knew He was there and talked to Him non-stop!)

At that huge funeral things got mixed up and my little family wasn’t able to sit with my dad and sibs and their families. Bradley, still in kindergarten, must have known how absolutely alone I felt. Even though we were sitting in hard plastic chairs, he got out of his and came to sit with me. During that time when I needed so much, he was there to hold onto.  

I love you, kiddo. For all the things I’ve learned by watching you, for all the things you taught me, for the laughter, the joy, and even the times when we cried, thank you.