By Bettie Luke
Northwest Asian Weekly
Anne Wing was the only Auntie I ever knew. In my mind, I playfully thought of her as my “Favorite Auntie.” She was married to David Luke, who often said how proud he was to be the closest relative to our family. David told me when he was standing on the pier in China, waiting to go to the United States , he met our father, Lung Sing Luke, who had disembarked on the same pier, returning to China. Our Pop had traveled on a ship that came from Seattle, which was David’s destination. That may have been 1924, as that is year our Pop returned to China to get married. So they both saw each other coming and going. Both eventually settled with family, in Seattle.
David and Anne’s family visited us on occasion. Since there were so few Chinese families in those days (a hardship caused by the National 1882 Chinese Exclusion Laws), I felt disappointed the visits were not more often. I wanted to enjoy more time and get to know cousins who were around our age – Larry, Diane, and Randy.
When I was young, Auntie Anne came to our family laundry on James Street, with a big bundle. Her daughter Diane had outgrown some clothes. What an amazing sight, to see pretty dresses our family could never afford. She held up a coat and said in Chinese, “Come and give me a hug— and this will be yours.” Being number six and the last child in a very traditional Chinese family, there was seldom any talk or gesture of affection. I did not recognize or recall ever hearing the Chinese word for “hug.” My sister Marge, who was a year older, somehow knew – and she got the coat.
David and Anne parted ways. After awhile, David Luke married another Chinese woman and had two more daughters, Carolyn and Linda.
Anne later married David Wing. Anne told me that after my brother Wing Luke, ran for office and won, she kept his campaign poster. She cut out the “Wing” part of the poster and put it above her mailbox. I always felt affection toward Auntie and enjoyed seeing Anne and David Wing in the community. I would wave and walk over to visit with them. Anne and David became known as wonderful dance partners, and they frequently socialized, with a larger dance group of friends.
I remember attending a wedding reception, which had a delightful live band, playing groovy music. I walked past the table where Anne and David were sitting and said, “Hey, how come you two aren’t on the dance floor?” Anne answered, “We’re waiting for a faster song!” And they were! I had to laugh at my question when they got up to dance. The couple danced with such fluid ease, that I watched in admiration (and maybe a little envy).
Wing and David Luke reconciled a relationship of sorts that was civil, in their latter years. Civil became a rare form of considerate – when David Luke was alone and sick with cancer. Anne became the only person David Luke would trust, to drive him to cancer treatments. Classy lady. Anne’s husband, David Wing, displayed grace by not interfering. Classy gentleman.
When David Luke died, I heard there was tension between the two sets of David Luke’s children. I felt the closest to Randy Luke and invited myself to the meeting with the Priest and both sets of siblings, to plan the funeral program for their father. The two sets of Luke children were not really acquainted with each other.
Bringing a bunch of flowers, I started out by handing a flower to each sibling around the table and asked each to individually express what they wanted for their father’s funeral program. Within that meeting, we were able to broker a program where each set of children was able to comfortably express their feelings about their father’s life, and even referenced each other in their comments. While at the remembrance meal after the funeral, Anne thanked me for smoothing the way.
I was a guest at the Birthday Party to cerebrate the “90s” of both Anne and David Wing. It was a joyous gathering of family and friends in 2012. To honor the dual 90s birthdays being celebrated, I crafted two leis that I presented at the party. Each lei was made from 9 gold $1 coins, representing the 90s, and interspersed by silk flowers and ribbons.
I watched as Randy Luke, Larry Luke and his wife Bette (I am the OTHER Bettie Luke) efficiently managed the proceedings for the night. All of us in the room held our collective breath, and watched with warm admiration and affection, when David Wing rose out of his wheelchair on the dance floor, to dance a few moments with his wife. You could tell they deeply loved each other. Truly, a golden moment to remember.
Well Anne— you danced up the stairway to Heaven on twinkle toes. I wish there had been time to record your vast store of knowledge on the early history of our Chinese American community. You have created history yourself with the many important things you have done for the community. You are one special lady of accomplishment.
In reflection, I won’t mull over thoughts of missing you. Rather, I will hold how fortunate I am to have witnessed and experienced some warm nuggets of memories in your company. You will always be my “Favorite Auntie”! (end)