His Life Is Written…On My Heart

I keep one special book near my bed: my dad’s Bible.  It is an old leather black Bible, expensive leather, worn now, with the edges exhibiting tears, folds and coffee stains intruding out of the faded black.  The cover has “Holy Bible” and “Marion W King” written in gold letters.

Inside the Bible both my parents handwriting flood the pages. Both my parents were born in 1932, were in love for a time and he went to be in the Marines. My mom married another man, only to divorce him when he became violent. Years later my dad came home from where he was stationed and married my mom and adopted my brothers as his own.  When my dad died on February 8th in 1982, when he was only 49, my mom gave me this Bible a few years later. I immediately looked for signs of him in the Word. My tears flowed across page after page of all he had taught so many people.

I always wondered what my parents got for their birthdays and Christmas presents, since they grew up during The Great Depression. I imagine Dad got boy things, perhaps toy soldiers?  A pop gun?  What toys were in his childhood years. I will never know.  But I know he got a Bible, my dad had lots of Bibles.  If you found your deceased dad’s Bible what would you do?

I know I have lots of marks in my Bible.  I never could keep up with my mom’s writing though.  She was the “master marker.”  Her Bible is full of underlines.  Her Bible underlines are straight and neat.  I cannot do it.  My lines inevitably invade other verses, they’re crooked and sometimes run right through the middle of the words. I gave up drawing straight lines under verses—I now put squiggly lines.  I once asked my mom to show me how she made straight lines under her Bible verses—sometimes without even an effort.  She tried but I’ve never succeeded.

I don’t have my dad or my mom living anymore but I have his Bible with their marks. I have evidence that he read it, studied it, applied it to his life. I’m so blessed with the many memories and reminders of his life story.  And there is so much of him written in it.  My mom and my dad wrote in his Bible, the Bible I keep near  my bed.  It’s nice to have something—anything—that reminds me of him.

I am 52 now and it is 30 years since he died.  He would be 80 this month. I can remember every detail of what he looks like.  Really, the only harsh memory I have of my dad is that he picked at me endlessly for the way I prayed. In all honesty, I think he was just teasing me, playfully, but I never knew then and it’s affected my entire life since then. I’m going to let go of that memory and stop being afraid to pray aloud.

Paul says in 2 Corinthians 2: 3-5—”Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? We don’t need letters of recommendation to you or from you as some other people do, do we?  You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone, revealing that you are a letter of Messiah, delivered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living One, not on stone tablets but on tablets of human hearts.”  My dad’s life is written on my heart.  It gives me pleasure still to read his Bible.

My dad’s favorite verse: Philippians 4:13 –“I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me”I carry that same verse as my own favorite. I know that through my parents words in that Bible, in their applications of those words to my life, have helped to make me strong and realizing how much I need daily to study and learn those words, so I too can write them on my heart and in my daughters lives.

Write in your Bible!  Even if you use squiggly lines.  Your kids will thank you someday!  More importantly, write your lives on their hearts.  That someday, perhaps one cold night, as they wait to go asleep, they will read your Bible, see your marks, and remember that day, long ago, when you wrote your life on their lives.

To you Daddy, I pray I’ve honoured your memory and served well as your Daughter. I love you!

My Knight In Shining Armour ~ My Dad

A young baby boy was brought into this earth. He was born in Greenville, South Carolina on September 27, 1932 to the parents of Homer and Bessie King. I would guess he lived a pretty normal life that everyone else in the time of the Depression did, with the exception that his father died while working on a truck. It fell onto his chest when the boy was only 4 years old. He never grew to know his father, at least not his earthly father. He was the middle child of three sons. When he was 16 he fell in love for the first and only time in his life with a pretty young girl who attended the same church that he did. They didn’t run off and get married or anything crazy, instead it was 5 years later when they did. When he was 17 years old he joined the military, the Marines to be more exact. The boy I’m writing about is my father, Marion Wilson King. After boot camp he and my mother, Viola Poole, married and had three daughters. I, Nancy, am the middle child just as my father was.

My father was the greatest man alive as far as I’m concerned. He spent many years traveling the Marine Corps and fought in the Korean Conflict from the years 1952-1958. I can’t really say how much fighting he did but he was there for 5 years. I know that he worked as a medic on the helicopters that brought in the wounded and others. He was shot in the back, literally, and had to wear a full back brace, so that probably kept him off the front lines, for which I am eternally grateful! He retired from the Marines after 22 active years of service in 1972 and then remained on inactive duty (meaning he could be called back to serve at any given moment) for another 8 years. All those 30 years my father served his country and dedicated his life to being of service to these United States. My dad also served as a volunteer fireman as part of the military duty that he was required to fulfill. Our family was required to move, as all families are, whenever duty calls for it. My dad moved us between North and South Carolina many times, probably more than I can ever remember. I know I went to at least 12 different schools while growing up. My education was always important to my parents but back in the 70’s it wasn’t all about politics and CATS testing. I went to military schools on some occasions and it was definitely more strict than ordinary public school was.

Before retiring from the Marines my dad worked at a factory making tools for cars as well as his job on the base. He would work from 6am until 2pm and then from 3pm until 11pm. We lived on the coast of SC at that time and we would always wait for daddy to come home from work because he wanted for us all to go swimming as a family at midnight. I know where I get my spontaneity from for sure.

Soon after his retirement my dad felt that he was being called to Minister a church, so we moved to the Upstate Area of SC so he could go to college and do Bible Studies. He went to school in Hendersonville, NC at Fruitland Baptist Bible College and worked as a Pastor at a few small churches during his time at college. I remember hearing my mom and dad in the kitchen as early as 4am for him to get his breakfast and lunch for the day and then he would catch a ride with other Pastors-to-be a few miles from where we lived. Those four men traveled for 4-6 hours a day through rough mountain terrain to get back and forth to school for three years so they could better teach their congregations. My dad graduated from college in 1979 and I graduated from High School the same year! My dad was always my inspiration for going to college. I always wanted to learn more and more and study and read like he did. Later that year my dad was called to be Associate Pastor at a church in Covington, KY (Southside Baptist) and he stayed there for about a year until he left to be a full-time Pastor at another church just a few miles down the road, or a few towns away. He was there until his passing in 1982 and loved doing God’s work.

I wasn’t always close to my dad because he was gone a lot serving his country with the military, the fire departments, and the ministry. I think I was starting to understand who he was and what he stood for when I was 19. I loved my dad very much; he was the biggest, the best and the second most important person to me in my life, my mom was first. I can remember being 9 months pregnant at the age of 22 and sitting on my daddy’s lap. He always told everyone that he held his grandchild for the first time on that day! Four months after my daughter Jennifer was born my dad passed on to be with God. He loved her so much and on the day he died my mom told me that he was passing her newborn picture around and showing it to everyone. He was a very proud grandpa and would still be today with both of his granddaughters and great grandchildren.

Below are some pictures of my dad when he was in Korea, they’re the only ones that I have of him at all.  In a few of them he was receiving awards including several purple heart awards and he had tons of Rifleman Expert awards that we played with when I was little.  He didn’t mind at aassortedpicsofdaddy1956ll.  Notice the one where he is wearing a full back cast and shaving a patient.  It’s my favorite because it shows his compassion for others!  In the first picture from left to right he is standing alone, then in the middle receiving an award and the same picture is next with a turn of his head, then the back cast one and one with a fellow soldier and the last picture he is the second from the end (wearing the darkest uniform).  Speaking of uniforms, I always loved to iron my dad’s military uniforms; something about the smell of starch and the crispness of the clothing.  I still love ironing to this day!  My dad would be much older today but he died at a young age of 49. It’s hard to believe he’s been gone for so many years.  I do miss him,  just like it was yesterday that I last saw him.

The Fabric Of My Life ~ My Mom

The distant sound of whirring and the foot pedal up and down on the floor. The sliding sound of scissors on the table as pieces of fabric were cut to embellish our bodies. These were the fabrics that wove our life together. My mom would sit at her sewing machine sewing all the clothing of my younger years. Rarely using a store bought pattern, she’d piece together her homemade newspaper patterns. With three girls, two boys and two foster children there was always a need for new clothing.  My mom worked tirelessly for hours and hours piecing and sewing one outfit, usually dresses, after another.  She stitched by hand the hems of all the dresses, the pant legs of my brothers clothing and many military patches on my dads Marine Corp fatigues. When my sisters and I were majorettes mom and her friend got together and made all the girls uniforms complete with fancy sequins and satin shirts to wear with them.

Many years later when I had my first daughter mom made Jennifer her first dress and bonnet to wear home from the hospital, it was yellow floral and stitched entirely by hand. Mom made my youngest daughter’s first dress too and even made the layette, bedroom curtains, a sheet set and bumper pads for Kelsey’s crib.  

My mom sewed through two generations of doll clothes for my sisters and I when we would lose our dolls clothes or they would just get torn from playing with them so much.  My mom sewed my daughters doll clothes as well.  Mom sewed all four of my bridesmaid dresses when I got married in a little under three weeks time.  It seemed as though she could just whip out anything that was ever needed as long as she had a needle and thread.  I remember always having trouble learning Math in school but mom helped me with that too.  I learned about measurements and fractions from my mom and her sewing techniques. I learned how to fit pieces that seemed impossible and make my own skirts and dresses. I sew myself now and even my youngest likes to sew with me on occasion. The days of sewing and watching mom are gone now but the memories will be forever embedded in my mind.

I’d have to say that what I remember most about mom’s sewing were the sounds that filled the rooms when she sewed. She usually had 6 to 8 straight pens stuck just on the edge of her lips as she pulled them out of the fabric one by one. Sweet sounds of her humming was often heard, though sometimes buried under the whirring sound of the machine.  They were usually old gospel hymns, “Sweet Hour of Prayer”, “The Old Rugged Cross”, “In the Garden” or her all-time favorite, “Where Could I Go.” I loved being with my mom. The way she moved around our home working swiftly and steadily from one task to another. It wasn’t the modern day work or the “Proverbs 31  thing to do, it was just my mom taking care of her family. The greatest title ever bestowed upon her.

©Nancy King, December 2008.

Where I’m From

I am from far and distant shores of giant oceans, balmy winds, and hot summer nights, from Little Women, Charlotte’s Web, Hans Christen Andersen, and The Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe story books and The Blue Angels Aerobatic Team practicing overhead and the sonic booms caused by the Military planes flying past.

I am from the mountains higher up than my head can see from below, winding roads and car sickness filled weekend travels never knowing when or where we would end up.

From strict military housing, spic and span walls and floors, quarter bounce test on the beds after being made and sliding down the hallways on freshly waxed floors knowing full well my mom was loving that we were having a good time.

I am from the tomato fields as far as one can see, watermelon picked fresh and eaten for after dinner dessert and grapes overhead growing complete with snakes sneering from above, the sassafras plants that my mom made us tea from and sugar cane we sucked straight from the stalks.  Rotten tomato fights in the fields across the road.

I am from moma’s banana pudding, fruit cakes being made and stored from October until Christmas, my daddy’s (whom everyone knew as “Blackie”) fish fry with the Statler Bros., The Oak Ridge Boys, and The Imperials all throughout the summers passed. I’m from Revivals that lasted not just three days, or a week, but for two full weeks; and when someone got saved there was a big celebration!

I’m from hand-sewn clothing well into my teens, barbie doll clothes my mother made, marching majorettes from one parade to another, ironing stiff Marine Corps uniforms and the wonderful smell of starch as it touches the hot iron.

I’m from Homer Lee King, Marion Wilson King and William Alan Poole, Phoebe Poole, and Viola A Poole.

I am from a line of women who can do anything when they set their minds to it and men who fought in Wars and fought fires to serve their country and protect their families and family time that was truly QUALITY time!

From the Cherokee nation and gypsies traveling the country and bootleggers making moonshine to help make ends meet.

I am from the Southern Baptist community and remember most Riverside Baptist Church where I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Saviour when I was 14 years old. Where the baptistry was below the preacher’s pulpit and The Lord’s Supper was like a major Christmas sale at Walmart. Where it seemed like every Sunday there was a good enough reason to have ”Dinner on the grounds” and the food was phenomenal!

I am from Beaufort, SC; Greenville, SC; and somewhere in Tennessee where the mountains meet the sky and the Cherokee Indians chant their prayers. I’m from homemade peach ice cream and fried chicken with gravy and biscuits.

From my grandmother’s beaded necklaces and my mother’s button jar; I’m sown from the stitches in time and the flicker of the many flames in my mother and father’s hearts.  I’ve been touched with God’s mighty hand like a piece of clay beneath the potter’s wheel to become,

Where I’m From.

©Nancy King – 2008

The Night

The night was dark and cold, rain was pouring down and the drops seemed like swords hitting the windshield. I was driving as fast as I could, semi trucks surrounding me, pulling me in their path. I was at school and work all day and so tired when I got home.

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Then the messages one after the other; my sister said on the other end, “call me, call me, we’ve got to get down there, call me!” I called and got the news, I knew she’d been sick, I was there with her in the past two weeks. She looked like death, the smell was putrid and horrifying.

The only way I could get the image of her sickness was to think of her from what I’d always known. My mom always had this wonderful scent about her, I can still smell it today. All the times I think of her, I can smell her. Her favorite flowers were African Violets, her daddy named her after Violets, his favorite flower, but she penned Viola as her name. The name suited her well. I let the thoughts of my childhood illuminate in my mind so I never have to 
see her pale and sickly body again.

I love my mom’s smile and the way her eyes would shimmer when she laughed, there’s just something about her face that always makes me feel warm inside. I was driving to that image, that smile and the shimmering in her eyes, I smelled her, all to familiar scent, all the way home to her. Little did I know, two weeks before that night would be the last time I would see my mom alive. I had a completeness with my mom.

I spent most of my life longing for her approval and for her to tell me that, finally, she was proud of me and two days before her passing she said those words to me…”I love you Nancy, I’m really proud of you and the way you made it through college and raising Kelsey.” Sometimes I think my very breath was hinging on those words. I wanted so much to do right by my mom, my dad too but he’s long been gone from this earth.