Luke was the second of five sons born to Patricia "Brady" McCain and William McCain. His older brother Danny was just three when he was born and remembers asking on the way home from the hospital with his new brother if he could play "army men" with him when we got home. Later they would play for hours with those little men in the backyard sand pile. Luke had three younger brothers, Mark, Matt, and Bill.
LUKE'S TRUE STORY: WHEN "NORMAL" LIFE TAKES A TRAGIC TURN
The story of Luke's life is an example of how a perfectly normal happy and loving child can be changed by events in his life that are totally beyond his control. Mental illness had such a devastating effect not only in his life, a seemingly healthy child, but also affected the lives of his entire family and others who loved him dearly. He began to exhibit the first symptoms after his fifteenth birthday.
When Luke was born there was a popular TV show called "The Rifleman" whose name was Lucas (Luke) McCain. He enjoyed watching it along with his brothers. When He started school and his teachers did roll call, he was teased by his friends who called him The Rifleman, which of course he secretly enjoyed. Luke was a bright and happy child with a sunny smile that made his eyes sparkle, and he made friends easily. He loved school and always did well in all of his studies.
When he became a member of the Junior Traffic Police Patrol along with his older brother Danny, it was directed by the Montgomery Police Department and it was considered an honor to be selected. Luke was chosen and at the end of his first year, they went to a two-week summer camp. Luke, being the youngest, was only allowed to go because his older brother would be there. Since they were in different cabins due to their ages, Danny wasn't always able to keep an eye on his little brother. When they got home from camp, Luke's bag had never been opened. Everything was still just as it had been when he left home. Not only had he not brushed his teeth for two weeks, but he had not even changed his underwear. Fortunately, they went swimming every day so at least he was clean. Danny confided later that he didn't have a very good time because he was worried about Luke, but Luke had a great time! He and Danny each served five years before graduating to Junior High School, as did his younger brothers, Mark, Matt and Bill.
Luke was an avid reader and would read every book he got his hands on. Many Sunday afternoons after church, his mother would take the boys to the Montgomery Public Library downtown where he would check out the maximum number of books allowed and would have read them all long before it was time to return them. At age thirteen, he had read the entire set of World Book Encyclopedias including the Yearly Annuals, and the set of World Book Child Craft Encyclopedias. Luke was an extremely brilliant child. Many times he would sit in the backyard swing under the pecan tree for hours, then come inside and sit at the kitchen table where his mom was cooking dinner and talk of all the things he had been thinking about. At dinner, he was constantly being reminded to stop talking and eat, but he was not silent for long. He spoke of things so far beyond his age level that it was often difficult for even an adult to comprehend.
Music was Luke's passion. He played saxophone in the band at Capital Heights Junior High School for three years and later in the Robert E. Lee High School Band. He also learned to play the trombone and oboe. He loved to play piano, especially Classical, Jazz and Ragtime music. Two of his Ragtime favorites were Scott Joplin's "The Entertainer" and "Maple Leaf Rag", which he played beautifully. Luke learned to tune pianos and spent several years doing that in his spare time. He also wrote a Music Primer entitled, "Learn to Read Music in Sixteen Easy Lessons" where he drew each instruction page by hand in rough draft, and then got a copyright on it. Years later his younger brother Matt, who had a printing business of his own, besides his regular job, enlisted the help of some friends and they spent countless hours organizing the book and he printed up many copies, which he distributed to family and friends. He did this on his own time and at his own expense as a labor of love in memory of his brother Luke. A copy of the book is displayed on his mother's piano today.
Luke did not get into trouble, rebel, or get involved in drugs as many kids his age did. He had a great love of the outdoors and would spend hours walking at home and also through the woods at his grandparent's home in the country. He loved animals, especially the old mule that his Granddaddy had, and when visiting would always take it a treat to eat. He really loved that old sway-backed mule.
Luke and his brothers were all close as they grew up together. Luke was almost nine when his baby brother Bill was born. They formed a very close bond despite their age difference and Luke taught him to play chess when he was about six and also to play the piano. When his friends came over to play board games, Bill was always included. They were best pals and Luke called him "Will" and was the only person who ever called him by that name. Luke loved holidays, and at Christmas, when he and his brothers were younger, they would save their money, draw names, and exchange gifts. Luke always wanted to draw Bill's name and if he didn't get it, he would swap names with another brother so he could get Bill a gift. Luke was very thoughtful in selecting gifts which is evidenced by the collection that his mother has in her home.
WHEN LIFE IS NO LONGER "NORMAL"
When Luke was fifteen, he began to withdraw from his family and friends and his personality changed drastically. As his withdrawal escalated, he exhibited signs of depression not typical of him as he had always been such a happy child. He was taken to a doctor who then referred him to a psychiatrist. He was treated by some of the best mental health professionals available, and underwent numerous evaluations and tests. He was also given an I.Q. test in which he scored at high genius level.
He was diagnosed with a severe mental illness that took over his life, and over which he had no control. While being treated by psychiatrists in different hospitals during the next few years, he was placed on medications the doctors said he would have to take for the rest of his life. During this difficult period he was able to graduate with his class at Murphy High School in Mobile, Alabama where he had been transferred, due to his ongoing therapy and treatments. When he returned home, he had improved greatly and his sunny disposition had returned. He got a job with a national retail store in Montgomery and was soon promoted to assistant manager. Later, he became manager of the Montgomery Division of another large company. He had an engaging personality which attributed to his success in his professional career. Things were going well for him at this time and he appeared to be happy and adjusting well.
Luke was twenty-seven when his life took a downward spiral. He stopped taking his medications. He thought he could do well on his own without them. He fought a hard battle, but at the young age of twenty-seven, he lost his war to a mental disease that he could not overcome and took his life.
He took a part of each one of us, who loved him so much, with him. Luke will always be loved and remembered as the delightful child that he was; and as the loving, brilliant, and talented young man that he had become.
His brothers Danny and Mark now rest beside him in a serene and beautiful place, near the shade of an old oak tree overlooking the pond and the woods where he spent so many happy hours as a boy in a place he loved. It is the old home place of his maternal grandparents Lewis Brady and Thelma "Burke" Brady where the Brady Cemetery is located, and where they too now rest.
music and song,
a joy to my soul,
the part that is gone,
where once I was whole,