Veronica Hendrix

*The prayers of the righteous avail much.

Not the exact passage from the sacred scriptures, but I grew up hearing my mom defer to this verse when life presented challenges that needed divine intervention.

I have come to a juncture where I have to defer to this verse, literally and unabashedly every day. And if righteous folks were needed to send prayers up, I quickly scoured my resources and unearthed them. They have come through in a big way.

My father is very ill. He has been since last year, but hospitalized most recently and has been in the hospital for nearly a month. His aliments are many, complicated by pneumonia, a new infection he developed while in the hospital and his age.

He’s tethered to a labyrinth of wires, tubes and lines that connect to a network of devices that beep, hiss and hum. It’s an ominous sound. The digital displays on the machine blink and wink and oscillate. They are ominous as well. They are hypnotic too.

The team of doctors, or should I say school because there are many, are careful and deliberate in their assessments. Beneath their “medical speak” is a tone of resignation and anxiousness for the family to throw up the white flag.  After all, medical care is very expensive.

It’s staggering to see Dad this way.  The first time I was him in the hospital was a jolt to my eyes, mind and senses. My dad is a strong Black man whose pride and dignity are worth more than million. This journey has impaled the strength he has held on to so dearly and determinedly all his life. He’s had too. Being raised in the south at the height of racism required it. His survival at this every moment is an aggregate of those experiences. Dad has faced many formidable opponents in his life. His latest health challenge is just another one has to traverse.

It’s not easy for him being prodded and poked; connected and disconnect from various devices. Taking a step forward and taking two and three steps backward have been characteristic of his journey.  His spirit has suffered, waffling between wanting to stay and wanting to go. But when family, friends and church members visit, his spirit is imbued with new strength for that day, much like the daily portions of manna God provided to the weary Israelites during their travels in the desert.

Throughout my life Dad has always encouraged me to be strong. To dig in my heels. Do battle if I have to and not to shrink away from a fight when something was worth fighting for. When I would tell him, “Dad I can’t. I can’t do it,” he would get angry then calmly say, “In this house, there is no such word as can’t.”  Today, the word “can’t” isn’t part of my vocabulary. I am surprised I even know how to spell it.

Life is finite.

I have come to terms with this latent reality in the wake of dealing with my Dad’s illness.

But life is priceless and worth fighting for.

That’s what we are doing.  That’s what he is doing.

During a recent visit, I took his hand and said, “Dad, do you want to fight?”

He squeezed my hand and nodded his head decidedly up and down.

I said, “Then it’s on. If you want to fight, we will mix our strength, faith and prayers with yours and we will fight.”

Tears streamed down his eyes and filled my. My fingers were nearly numb from him holding on so tightly, but that’s ok with me.

Last week during services at West Angeles Church of God in Christ in Los Angeles Bishop Blake said, “If you have the will, God will make a way.” Those words were like a suave to my soul.

This is a transparent moment for me. But it’s life. It’s a juncture we will all traverse with a family member or cherished friend at some point in our lives. When faith is all that you have to hold on too, then the prayers of the righteous avail much. They are everything.

The moment I wake up, before I put on my make up, I say a little prayer for you Dad and countless others are  praying for you too. For that, I say thank you.

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