* * *
My father's life was nearly over. His blood just decided it didn't like his body anymore.
All of his mental faculties were intact, and his pain was manageable. Except when he was getting blood transfusions. That caused him unbearable pain. His condition being terminal, he had decided, "No more transfusions."
He was in hospice in his home on the bayou in Louisiana. A former architect, he had designed his waterfront home himself twenty-two years earlier. It was here he would live out his days. It was here he would die.
I was staying with him and my stepmother. He had had a particularly rough day, and had decided to lay down for a nap.
I got my laptop and was trying to get some writing done when he got up to go to the bathroom. The family had agreed that as long as my father could do for himself, we would let him. I watched him out of the corner of my eye as he shuffled along. He went in and shut the door.
It was perfectly normal at this stage of his decline for him to take some time in the bathroom. This evening was no exception. I listened carefully as I typed in case he should need me.
At length, I heard the toilet flush and the sound of running water as he washed his hands. Soon the door opened and he shuffled back to bed. He slipped himself under the covers in his usual, slow manner.
He lay there a moment as I continued to work. (Well, work may be a strong term, since I wasn't getting much done. But that's another story.) Then I heard him speaking.
I looked over at him. He wasn't talking to me. He didn't seem to be talking to anyone, just laying there with his eyes closed, talking. Then I realized hew was praying.
I got up and went to his bedside. I wanted to hear his prayer, to pray with him. "Teach me to be a true disciple of Christ," he murmured, "and grant me the strength to do Your will." He paused a moment, the fingers of his right hand carefully folded over his left fist, then added, "Amen."
I stood in silence. I could barely comprehend what had just happened. My father -- my dying father -- was praying for the strength to do God's will. For a long moment, I could do nothing. Finally I managed a whispered "Amen."
He opened his eyes. For a moment, we held each others' gaze. "That was a beautiful prayer," I told him.
"Thank you," he said, smiling weakly.
My stepmother heard us talking, and called downstairs, "What's he saying?"
"He was just praying," I called back.
"I was praying," he said, "and God answered my prayer through Bruce.
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