Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Aunt Audrey

Few times in my life have I felt as honored or humbled as I did when Coy called to ask if I would give his mom’s eulogy. During her 82 years of life, Audrey Feucht BoĆ©, was a daughter, sister, wife, sister-in-law, aunt, mother, mother-in-law, and Granny. But someone with as large of a heart as hers had room for even more. She was also a kind friend and neighbor, the dedicated organist here at St. Peter for 53 years, and a patient piano teacher for over 40 years. In addition to the privilege of being her niece, I was also her student.
Once a week, I would sit in Aunt Audrey’s  kitchen waiting for my lesson. With my piano book open, my fingers played a silent tune on her table, as I hoped that when I played for her my performance would hide the fact that I hadn’t practiced. But it always showed.
My favorite part of the lesson, even better than when she would stick a star on the page of a song I had mastered, was when she would play a new recital piece first so I could hear the way it was supposed to sound. Her performance set the tone and the pace, showed me where to pause, and where to pick up speed. Later at home, as I attempted to learn the song, I tried to mimic her notes. In my head I always heard her example and with practice, my song slowly began to sound like hers, at least in my mind it did. I tried so hard to imitate her. I still do.
Whenever I would enter her home, after walking through Uncle Ray’s magical yard, I was always welcomed. Every single time. I never felt like I was imposing. Now I must admit to often being confused because there was a backwards clock that I still can’t read, but other than that, I felt as comfortable as I do in my own home. Aunt Audrey was always prepared for company. She loved to cook for people, whether it was family or friends, or all of the friends they brought with them. She was always warm and kind, and displayed a degree of hospitality to which I aspire.
We occasionally played Liverpool Rummy, a card game my Aunt Toot taught us. While others took their time and planned their strategy for winning, Aunt Audrey and I would talk about life, her unique ability to hold her cards upside down, and her family whom she dearly loved.
Every year on their birthdays, her family would get their favorite cake, homemade – no store-bought frosting for them. Although she didn’t use the text message feature of her phone, whenever she flipped it open, there was a picture of her great-grandchildren, Aiden and Allie.
Aunt Audrey always listened to my stories, and never let me leave without encouraging me. She never believed or noticed anything bad in people, only the good. Her words were always positive and filled with life, strength, and hope.
During the last four years of her life, illness prevented her from entertaining in her home and kept her from the church that she loved, but it could not silence the sustained note which played throughout the song of her life. It could not stop her faith. As her life became quieter, her days continued to begin with Bible reading and prayer. Her prayers and faith were ever increasing, once again setting an example for those near her. She never complained, but was always grateful for the people who cared for her, especially Uncle Ray.
When we learned of her death on Christmas, my dad said, “On the day we celebrate Jesus leaving Heaven for earth, Audrey was freed from earth and entered Heaven.”
It’s been years since Aunt Audrey played a recital piece for me to imitate, but the beautiful music she made of her life resounds in my heart. The gentle rhythm of her love, humility, kindness, and faith will forever be a melody I not only hear, but yearn to imitate. And if we all do that, her life’s song plays on.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

They're Getting Married!

Yes, we expected it. My husband Michael and I knew it was coming. Yet when David Southwick asked to meet Michael for lunch, we braced ourselves.
So here’s the backstory. David, a youth pastor, moved from Birmingham to New Orleans last summer to plant One Hope Church with my niece Amber and her husband Josh Canizaro.
David and Elise met in City Park at a church social. After two months of friendship, he told her that he wanted to court, and eventually marry her. He asked her to pray about it and decide if she could see herself as a pastor’s wife. Apparently she could, for they began to date, but Elise made it clear that they would have to wait a year before becoming engaged.  When I questioned her timeline she said, “I have to go through every holiday and season with him. I want to get to know him slowly.”
            And one year later, David and Michael had lunch. Oh, how I wish I would have been there. I only know that David began by saying that he wanted to spend the rest of his life with Elise. Michael told him that wasn’t necessary - he could walk away and we would take care of Elise for the rest of our lives. And while that may seem strange to some, it’s the best reflection of how we feel about our children. Several days after that lunch, Michael told David that if he still wanted to marry Elise, he had our blessing.
            Last Saturday, on a sunny and beautiful afternoon, David, Elise, and David’s parents met my family at a picnic table near Storyland under the pretense of an afternoon in the park with my granddaughters. My daughter Monique asked Elise and David to return to her car to get the wagon. When they reached the exact spot where Elise was when David saw her for the first time, Monique called out to Elise. Elise turned around and saw her nieces Adeline and Olivia holding a sign, “Look at Uncle David!” Elise turned back to David, who was on one knee.
            The photographer popped out from behind a large oak tree and captured the moment when Elise said, “Yes.”
            Later, David commented that Elise didn’t seem to listen to his prepared speech. She said, “Look, when you see a guy on one knee, holding out a diamond ring, you already know what he’s going to ask.”
            Now I just have one question for them. “Would y’all wait until I lose twenty pounds before getting married?”
Ronny may be reached at rmichel@rtconline.com

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

From the Mouths of Babes

            I love when my two-year-old granddaughter, Olivia, comes to visit. I listen as she speaks, watch as she plays, and lately, at her request, print a map for her return home. She lives 2.6 miles away.
Olivia’s imagination seems endless and never more so than when she plays with her Little People Playsets. Her collection includes a Nativity scene, an airplane, a school bus, and a castle. Mary, quite appropriately, is always the mother.
Olivia causes her dad, Frank, distress by having Mary drive the school bus, which is filled with children, Disney princesses, and wise men. Monique, Olivia’s mother, takes it all in stride. She is just happy for the precious minutes when the child is occupied with “all her people,” as she says when she sits down to play. Only recently did Monique become concerned.
Olivia ran into the kitchen and told Monique, “I said a bad word!”
“What? What did you say?”                                                      
“My people wanted to go to a football game so I was taking them and one of them said, ‘Roll Tide.’ Daddy told me that’s a bad word!”
It’s true. Frank, a proud graduate of LSU, has trained his daughter to yell “Tiger Bait” whenever she hears “Roll Tide.”
Now if your college football allegiance lies elsewhere, rest assured you would still like Frank. When he asked my husband for his permission to marry Monique, Michael made him wait two weeks before deciding. At that point, Frank contacted Michael again and the next day, with our blessing, Frank proposed to Monique.
Frank is a patient, kind, and loving husband and father. There is not a single doubt in my mind that he will continue to protect, provide, and guide his two daughters Olivia and Charlie, and share the way for them to one day reach their Heavenly home.
But for Frank’s sake, while Olivia was taking her Little People to the football game, I hope it wasn’t baby Jesus who yelled, “Roll Tide.”
Ronny may be reached at rmichel@rtconline.com.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

What is Normal?

            I’ll happily spend money on lunch dates with friends, fragrant candles, pretty journals, and anything for my granddaughters. I think that makes me quite normal. Just don’t ask me to buy appliances. I don’t mind if the ones I have are old and outdated as long as they work. But lately, many of them haven’t.
            In the past nine months, I’ve had to replace an iron (which I think belonged to my sister, Kay), a gas grill, coffee pot, toaster, refrigerator, washer and dryer. Maybe that’s normal, too.
            While each has a story of its own, let’s focus on the dryer. It was given to my daughter, Elise, when the owner moved to an appliance-furnished apartment. She and her three roommates used it for a year and when she moved, she gave it to us. It worked for a couple more years, gradually declining until it operated on only one cycle. At that point, last August, I bought a new one.
            An hour after the delivery men left, my youngest daughter, Victoria, came in from the garage and asked, “Where’s our dryer?”
            “Don’t talk to me about it. I finally gave in and bought a new one. They took the old one away.”
            “So where’s the clothes that were in the old one? I’m scheduled to work in an hour. My uniform’s in the dryer.”
            My husband called the store to track down our dryer and the last load of clothes it had dried. Since the delivery men were in a nearby neighborhood, he met up with them to recover Victoria’s clothes, and made it home in time for her shift at Sicily’s.
            Always looking for validation that I’m normal, I said, “The men must have assured you that this happens all the time.”
            “On the contrary,” Michael said, “They said this was the first time it has ever happened to them.”
            I guess author Patsy Clairmont was right when she wrote, “Normal is just a setting on your dryer.”
            I hope this dryer lasts for many years. So far, so good. It even plays a little tune when the clothes is ready. If my stove did that, maybe I’d cook more often.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Pave Your Trip to the Altar with Prayer

          More brides will walk down the aisle in June than any other month this year. The money spent on these celebrations will be part of the estimated 72 billion dollars spent annually on weddings. Long before the actual event, hours upon hours are devoted to making sure that every detail is planned and perfected. I’m not sure how much time is spent praying for the big day, but for me, years have been spent in prayer for my children’s spouses.
            Maybe that sounds odd, but even before they were born, I thanked God for ordaining their steps, including the ones that lead to marriage. In addition I prayed for their spouse, sight unseen, name unknown, and asked for God’s blessings on their lives as well.
            A year ago, my daughter, Elise, shared her list of qualifications for her future husband with me. He must exceed her in height and weight, be kind, and a good provider. In addition, she wants a man who will be a gentle and patient father to their children, and he must be able to pick her up.
            “To carry you over the threshold?” I asked.
            “No! In case we go to the beach for our honeymoon and I start to drown.”
            “But you can swim.”
            “Riptide. He must be able to pick me up and carry me to the shore.”
Elise is not the only person to ever write such a list. One teenager of American missionaries to China was sent to Korea for high school. Although she envisioned her life as a missionary to Tibet and an “old maid,” Ruth penned her qualifications for a spouse.
“If I marry, he must be so tall that when he is on his knees he reaches all the way to heaven. His shoulders must be broad enough to bear the burden of a family. His lips must be strong enough to smile, firm enough to say no, and tender enough to kiss. Love must be so deep that it takes its stand in Christ and so wide that it takes the whole lost world in. He must be active enough to save souls. He must be big enough to be gentle and great enough to be thoughtful. His arms must be strong enough to carry a little child.”
Ruth never became a full-time missionary to Tibet. Or an old maid. Instead she became the wife of Billy Graham and a missionary to the world.
Whether you’re in the midst of writing your own list for a spouse, in the planning stages of a wedding, or an innocent bystander, enjoy your journey. I hope it’s one you’ve paved with prayer.