Journal entry by Diana Hoffman

One of Tom's therapists called this morning to check in and give me some updates on Tom.   I do have some awesome news! She is planning for Tom to help her put together a winter garden on the grounds. She said she will have some raised beds built and have Tom help her decide what kind of plants to put in!!! I know some of Tom's friends who are gardeners might want to help?  Just a thought....

Journal entry by Diana Hoffman

I had an informative afternoon on a conference call with the caring professionals at NeuroRestorative. I do not know if you all know that this place deals only with people who have suffered some kind of brain damage.

Several major things were addressed. Tom cannot yet help himself up and down and is unable at this time to fully assist in getting himself dressed. On the plus side of this, he is motivated in his exercises and his physical therapy regimen.

He has aphasia. Aphasia is a condition characterized by either partial or total loss of the ability to communicate verbally or using written words. A person with aphasia may have difficulty speaking, reading, writing, recognizing the names of objects, or understanding what other people have said. Aphasia is caused by a brain injury, as may occur during a traumatic accident or when the brain is deprived of oxygen during a stroke. He has dramatically improved in his speech since the stroke and is making deliberate strides in improvement.

Anyone who knows Tom knows of his strength of character and his stubborn determination. He has not changed at all in this regard and is actively assisting and pushing towards his recovery.

I would invite you to visit Tom, as family and friends play an integral part in rehabilitation.

I so appreciate those of you who have taken the time to go and visit Tom and have also sent well wishes and prayers.

Love to you all!


Journal entry by sandi tomlinson

I visited Tom today. He especially loved going outside to feel the sun on his face. We watched the golfers tee off while sitting on his back porch. 

We read poetry. He selected the ones that he liked best. He said "I've got more to come!".

In his Health Journal notebook from Encompass I found some word and speech exercises. We worked on those together. His speech has improved significantly and he's very motivated to improve. Because it is Sunday he didn't have therapy today and he missed it. If you visit him you can engage with him on the exercises. He is so grateful for visitors.


Journal entry by Marianne Rochelle

Oh happy day!  Lynne and I went to see Tom today and he just about leapt out of his bed he was so happy to see us!  His sister Diana, good friend Carol McGuire and Carol’s husband got him settled in beautifully on Monday.  Carol made Tom a binder with tons of Tom’s poetry and he loved having us read some poems to him.  His right leg is much stronger than it was when I saw him a few weeks ago, and he definitely has more words.  He has so much he wants to say, and it’s just going to take time and a lot of speech therapy to keep making more progress.  The therapy room looks big, and I imagine after Thanksgiving more activity will be going on in there.  He loved seeing all of Lynne’s photos from her run on the trail around Lady Bird Lake.  He was very happy to know that I’d be sharing info about where he is.  He loves having visitors - bring your own poetry to read, pictures to show (or to put up in his room) and have some stories to tell!  (No food or drink yet.)

(Neuro Restorative @ 5150 North AW Grimes Blvd at the NW corner of University Avenue is in a mixed use development where the anchor business is called Life Storage.  There is a Kiddie Academy and Vista Vet near the stand alone building for Neuro Restorative (which is not visible from either street).  It’s across University Ave from a large Ascension Seton complex and down the road and on the opposite side of the street from the Texas State University campus on University Ave.)

Journal entry by Marianne Rochelle

The address for the location of Neuro Restorative where Tom is located is 5150 North A W Grimes Blvd., Round Rock, Tx 78665 (at the corner of University Blvd). Per google maps, another name for N. A. W. Grimes appears to be Hwy 1460. It’s in a strip center (near/at the end) with ample parking, and behind a Storage Rental business.  If I have any clarification to offer after visiting tomorrow, I will post again.  Happy Thanksgiving...

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Journal entry by Diana Hoffman

I had a delightful, happy, sad, frustrating, enlightening, up and down 4-5 hours with Tom. Laughter and tears, cuss words and more laughter highlighted my, and I hope his, day. Tom is very much still here. His spelling is sh**y! He knows in his head what he wants to say but letters and words do not always match. I am sincerely praying and hoping that the new neuro therapy will be beneficial for him. From the distance of 1200 miles away it is not easy to make decisions. Tom needs, and I need, for you all to help us. I am a big sister who is not used to letting others help me, but I sincerely need you all to help us both.  Diana

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Journal entry by Diana Hoffman

“Nobody could hold the same place in your heart as your sister. Love or hate her, she was the only person who grew up exactly like you, who knew the secrets of your household—the laughter that only the walls of your house contained or the screaming at a level low enough the neighbors couldn’t hear, the passive aggressive compliments or the little put-downs. Only your sister could know how it felt to grow up in the house that made you you.”
Jessica Taylor

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Journal entry by Diana Hoffman

I just got off the phone with Tom! Longest conversation yet, about 14 minutes! Although there is still some (understandable) frustration on both of our parts, I think he enjoyed the call. He has some major concerns about money and where he going to stay but I know we will work these things out. I mentioned the Caring Bridge to him and told him he has had almost 900 visits and he was amazed and said thank you. I am so proud of Tom and his progress.

Thank you all for caring.


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Journal entry by Diana Hoffman
Tom’s Story

Site created on October 2, 2019


Last week when I was in Austin, several words stood out in many of the conversations that I had… Icon. Treasure. Institution. Gift. 

Words that were used to describe my brother Tom Spencer. 

Sure, I could elaborate on the many places that through his efforts and leadership made Austin a better place to live, however I am going to take another route. 

When JFK was assassinated, Tom, a grade school kid, wept on the bus. He already at a young age had a sense of the world and how that charismatic man had made the world a better place. 

That desire to make the world a better place is something that Tom did in many little ways, not just on the public stage.

Our younger brother, Jeff, would have said Tom was a champion. Not just a hero in all their stories but someone who literally took his hand and walked him through scary places. Tom did that for the last time when Jeff died of cancer. 

Tom was an exasperation to me. He was an unwelcome intruder of my perfect world when he was born. He teased me, taunted me, fought with me and finally somewhere along the line we became friends. He was a treasure that I had at last found and my gift.

Last month Tom suffered a massive stoke. The articulate man that we all knew is silenced for a while.
He is struggling to regain the ability to express himself and let the world know that he is still here….

He is here and he needs your good will, kindness, prayers and what ever you call it to come back.

Here at Caring Bridge is a place where we can all find ways to help Tom return to self and to all of us.

Thank you,
Diana Hoffman (Tom's sister)