Fans close to Delilah Rene Luke know that in March she lost her
recently adopted 16-year-old son Sammy to sickle cell anemia. A
South Kitsap resident and downtown Port Orchard business owner,
Delilah is better known as a nationally syndicated radio host. The
self-described “Queen of Sappy Love Songs” is beloved by 8 million
listeners for her ability to connect to the lovelorn, lonely and
conflicted like an instant BFF.
On Thursday, Delilah will be a featured guest on Katie Couric’s
new nationally syndicated talk show, “Katie.” The segment airs in
the Seattle area at 4 p.m. on KING-TV NBC. A spokeswoman for the
show promises a glimpse at “the woman behind the microphone,” whose
love of life trumps “the many hardships she has faced.”
I first met Delilah in 2008 and soon found out that, despite her
honeyed voice and upbeat on-air persona, she’s
only about 30 percent sugar, with plenty of spice. She’s
down-to-earth, funny and often irreverent. Delilah’s become a very
real part of the South Kitsap community, sometimes rubbing
neighbors the wrong way with her
outspoken views and bold plans.
Sammy’s story, as Delilah relates it on her website, is both
tragic and uplifting. When he was a toddler, the boy was found
wandering the streets of a village in West Ghana. He survived on
scraps of food given to him by school children and later was sent
to an orphanage in the capitol city of Accra. A relative who was
eventually located said he used to scream and writhe on the floor.
The family thought he was possessed by demons and attempted an
“When that didn’t stop his screaming, they put him out in the
street to die,” Delilah writes. “Little did they know he was
writhing in pain because of sickle cell anemia, a genetic blood
disorder that afflicts many in West Africa. When the school
children found him they named him ‘Dzolali,’ meaning ‘spirits
Delilah met Sammy in 2010 through her work in Ghana with Point
Hope, the nonprofit children’s welfare organization she founded.
She was immediately taken by his broad smile and — despite all he’d
endured — his “unconditional love.”
With 11 children already, Delilah had not been looking to adopt
again, and she wrestled with her conscience before initiating the
mountain of adoption paperwork that set the ball rolling for
Sammy’s adoption a year later.
“I knew in my heart that Sammy was special, talented, lonely and
that I loved him, I just didn’t have a clue how special he really
was at that time or how much more I would grow to love him,”
Delilah wrote, on the
Point Hope website.
Once home, Sammy blossomed. He was a talented artist and dancer,
with Michael Jackson-like moves. He kept his room and belongings
immaculate and often offered to help Delilah.
Sammy had some developmental catching up to do. “Once he was
home to America, he could not get enough love and affection,”
Delilah wrote. “He was like a little puppy, wanting to be held and
loved on constantly.” But he quickly matured and outgrew his need
for lap time with “Momma Bear.”
Sammy Young D’zolali Rene died March 11 in the arms of people
who loved him.
I’ve interviewed Delilah on a number of occasions as her
businesses and big personality have made their impact on South
Kitsap. I can verify that a conversation with Delilah is one wild,
loopy emotional roller coaster ride. It’s hard not to get swept
along with the passion, the pathos and her infectious, throaty
laugh. Looking at the world through Delilah-colored glasses,
everything is possible, including fairy tale endings to impossibly
sad stories like Sammy’s.
“On the first night that he was fully my son, Sammy told me
through his tears that he never dreamed God would answer his
prayers,” Delilah wrote. “He said, ‘Momma, I always thought I would
die alone in the orphanage. That I would never know what it was
like to have someone love me.’”
Through racking sobs, Sammy said he’d always feared no one would
remember his life after he was gone.
Delilah promised him, “That he would be loved more than life by
me and many others, and that people would know that he had
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