Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Stories of My Life, Courtesy of Lewis and Audrey

Lewis & Audrey King
Two important people in my life loved each other and their friends dearly, and I confidently speak on behalf of their family when I say, "We never doubted their tremendous love for us."  Lewis Washington King married Audrea Mae Davis (later, her family called her Audrey) in February, 1936 and by the time of her death in 1998, they had celebrated 16 wedding anniversaries.  Why? Because they married on February 29, and he reminded her that he only had to buy an anniversary gift every four years.  Knowing Lewis, my Daddy Luke, and Audrey, my beautiful grandmother, was a treat.  I'll give my best introduction to this handsome gentleman who was a Rotarian and an SAR and his February bride whose granddaughters swore looked like a Hollywood star.

Although I occasionally accused him of being mean, Daddy Luke was a sweet man who often reared his head back and laughed at his gullible, puzzled granddaughter.  Without realizing it, I was developing a love of sarcasm and wit.  As a less gullible adult,  I tried, unsuccessfully, to match wits, which solicited more laughs. At their kitchen table, I became a competitive card player. If I won at gin rummy, which was rare, it was by my own doing, not his.  He also didn't let  me win at arm wrestling and laughed at me for considering myself stronger because I lifted weights.

Daddy Luke & Luke (John Lewis)

Probably the smartest and wisest man I've ever known, Daddy Luke was well-read with a study full of books, and I envied that room with those shelves my entire life.  He kept a copy of "The Works of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow" on the table next to his armchair, and I read it growing up, developing a love of poetry. I think he was delighted. Astonished  that Daddy Luke could name every president (Washington - Clinton) my 5 year old Luke studied and memorized until he did the same; however, he didn't learn them backwards like Daddy Luke.    

Daddy Luke, Katy, Susi (Audrea Susan)

Daddy Luke was famous for his blood curdling scream and startled two little girls huddled on the floor next to his armchair, approximately three feet from the consol television, on Sunday nights: as the ax went down on Ann Bolin's head when King Henry VIII had enough of her or as the flying monkeys terrorized Dorothy and friends.  Luke inherited that exact scream and has used it in line at Disney's Haunted Mansion. 

Grandmother, Stephanie & Drew (Andrew Lewis)

My ladylike Grandmother King told stories better than anyone, laughing and apologizing the entire time, "I'm sorry, I get so tickled when I tell it."   We weren't allowed to gossip or say anything negative about anyone, EVER.  She had many friends, was active in her church and community, and kept perfectly manicured nails. She taught us to sew, embroider, and swing a golf club and loved it when her grandchildren spent the night. She knew the value of a healthy smile and used an egg timer to time us brushing our teeth.  

She kept an immaculate home full of gorgeous antiques purchased by saving her "allowance" from Daddy Luke.   Grandmother didnt gossip. She taught us to respect Law Enforecent. She couldn't understand how we could possibly watch soap operas. Her television stayed off until after dinner, but we weren't bored.  With her fancy hats and jewelry in one guest room, and her "twirling" Western Square-dancing dresses in the closet of another guest room, my sister and I dressed up for hours.   Believing the neighboring cotton field belonged to our grandparents (it didn't) Scarlett and Prissy picked cotton and rode horses past fig, acorn, and pear trees back to the mansion for a snack and coke from a bottle, either in the kitchen or on the porch, but never in the den.

"I thank my God every time I remember you."  Philippians 1:3 NIV

 The human brain is fascinating.  Negative or positive, everything we've experienced resides there. "Psychology Today" says we're a product of our memories.  They give us a sense of self.  That's mind-blowing. Basically, every experience at Daddy Luke and Grandmother's house is still with me, and I can use those experiences for stories.  Their souls are with God, but the memory of their love and laughter is in my heart and mind forever.   Sharing this love and laughter through stories is a phenomenal gift from Lewis and Audrey, and from God.

Paul had a relationship with and remembered the Philippians,  and he thanked God for these children in the faith who were, in many ways,  a model church.  My grandparents were role models, and I thank God for their memory.  I can remember this verse on a more personal level?

I thank my God every time I remember Daddy Luke.

I thank my God every time I remember Grandmother King.

I thank my God every time I remember each of you,