Heavenly Father, I come to You in a time of weakness, not of soul or spirit, but of body. Lord, I know You are a God of healing — of the deaf, of the blind, and even of the lame — and in this time of need, I ask You to extend that mercy once more. If it be Your will, heal this body, Your clay vessel for my soul. And Lord, if it be my time to go home, I ask that You receive me into Your arms, as Your daughter, through Your Son. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
I wrote this prayer a year ago (I think; it isn’t dated) for my grandmother. Her health has been deteriorating over the past couple of years, and despite the prognoses given her, she has survived ever longer. At the request of one of my aunts, I wrote this prayer out so that it may be prayed for Grandma daily, and as I understand it, it has been. And Grandma always enjoys the experience.
When I saw the family just recently, they explained that she has come to the point where she has expressed her readiness to die, to lie down and to simply “be done.” They asked for another prayer which would express that desire to go home to the Father, which with heaviness of heart I did for them.
I prayed it with Grandma before I left, and as with the previous prayer, she was grateful.
I know there are many Christians who dislike repeated prayers, and I understand that. Jesus did instruct us to not use “vain repetition,” after all. But if a prayer is done in faith through Jesus, it is not vain, even if it is repeated. And I have faith that Grandma is alive today because of the faith of those praying for her.
Interesting questions were brought up, though, concerning the personality of Grandma. In her current state of mind, is she the same person as she was before the bleeds? Where does that leave the state of her spirit?
I don’t claim to be intelligent enough to answer such questions. Philosphers have worked on them for thousands of years, and they probably will be for thousands more.
Instead, I offer what makes sense to me. In the short time I spent with Grandma, there was a sort of innocence in her understanding, as a child who has not yet known the troubles of the world. Most of her understanding had been lost (or suppressed?) by the physical problems, but there was still a peace and a hope that honestly blessed me. She knew enough to understand that she was passing through the valley of the shadow of death, so to speak. She knew enough to not worry about it.
A child lives with a simple faith. The knowledge of good and evil had not yet come. And I believe that an inward communion with God is present in the “very young,” just as there was between Adam & Eve with God before they lost innocence. I believe this same simple faith exists in all those who mentally never grasp the knowledge of good and evil, such as the mentally handicapped.
Perhaps that innocence is restored to those who, like Grandma, suffer brain damage. Now, I have every assurance that prior to her health problems she believed in Jesus Christ, so I have every assurance that should she have died years ago, she would be in Heaven today. But the understanding of the Christ has been lost. If she has knowledge of God, it is on the most basic of levels.
Whether he previous knowledge accounts for this or whether it is the result of innocence restored, I don’t know, but I cannot otherwise account for her peace with and acceptance of death. There is no fear in her that I could discern.
The fear of death is something with which I sometimes struggle, but it is people like my grandma who show forth the glory of God so magnificently that assurance grabs hold and refuses to let go.
The cares of this world preoccupy us, burdening our lives in a way which was not originally intended. But Grandma is cared for. What if the Church were like this?
“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ,” Paul admonishes in Galatians 6:2. In helping another, we no longer worry about ourselves. And in being helped, others will not need to worry. It doesn’t matter how small the burden is; if you can lift it for someone, maybe you should? Help out a little extra at work. Maintain a website for someone who simply wants a medium to teach. Give a little extra to the needy. Run errands for someone. Or feed & clothe those who cannot do so themselves.
“And so fulfill the law of Christ.”
I should also mention that while you are welcome to take the prayer above and use it yourself, do so in faith. Modify it for your situation. Make it personal. Don’t let it become a vanity. Life is full of enough of those as it is.
A black average modern Zimbabwean family seems to be escalating toward perilous phase that could create some form of disunity in the family and possibly in a not-so-distant future, lead to relatives not seeing eye to eye.
‘A prayer for Grandma’ , a tragic, melancholic, humorous and all in all delightful play by Elliot Moyo opened recently at the National Art Gallery of Zimbabwe, in Bulawayo.
Inscribed with an all-new, unique balance of theatrical fearlessness and naturalism, which also felt like a documentary, and directed with excellent aptitude, one can say the tragic-comedy depicts the way we live now. Moyo managed to evoke compassion, emotion, exactness and consideration unmatched by any play I have seen this year.
The story follows the exploits of a broken family which is forced to come together, under one roof to save their ailing Grandmother (who in this case is referred to as ‘Grandma’). Inspired by lived experiences and the world around him, Moyo found it ironic how an unfortunate event such as illness and eventually death could become the stepping stone towards healing a family’s conflicts and moving on.
The cast includes award winning spoken word poet, BlackLily who plays the role of Faith, a jilted housewife trying to move on from a failed relationship. Outstanding hip-hop artist, Barry Changa who was behind the once popular Eversharp 15m animated rap advert acting as Henry, Faith’s cheating ex-husband who is still pining for her. Award winning house singer TKP acts as Beauty, Faith’s estranged and bitter sister with an attitude. Seasoned young actor, poet and musician Andie Clarence Dube is Mtha, Faith’s unwanted brother-in-law with a hidden secret. Also in the play are model and rapper Faizil acting as Doctor Midzi, the surgeon with a hidden agenda; as well as the incredibly talented screen actress Sheron Dube acting as Mama, the housewife with a guilty conscience.
Although women still seem to play a marginal role in official politics in Zimbabwe, they hold a key role in society. Some would say that women are better peacemakers than men, in this play, it’s arguably obvious that Moyo is depicting that notion.
In the play, the family is disjointed and distant. The characters, could represent some real families we may know. A family with robust bonds, little hidden angers and the kind of predicaments ripping of the fabric of middle class families in Zimbabwe – with unresolved problems.
Similar to some real life experiences, the play somewhat showed how much secrecy lies in families. The writer did well in showing that people especially women live their lives without sharing their feelings with family – only to suffer in silence. Beauty, pretended to be happily married and that all was rosy with her high school sweet heart, Mtha, whom she married at the age of 22. They fought a great deal and that started to strain their union. The dispute involved children. Beauty wasn’t ready to become a mother, all she wanted was to pursue her studies first.
Moyo’s play seems to fall along the lines of Mother Teresa’s words, “The woman is at the heart of the home Let us pray that we women realise the reason for our existence: to love and be loved and through this love become instruments of peace in the world”. The play also contains hints, stereotypes and possible reminders that women are unifiers.
Only a good spirit could bring these two warring sides together and as it turns out, it is Grandma’s unconditional love which heals them all, despite her own illness. How Grandma, manages to bring the jigsaw pieces together and leave a legacy even after her death?, remains a mystery.
The vision of the play, according to Moyo, was to show that something good comes out of bad situations.
“The main thing that I noticed is that funerals don’t only bring out the bad, it seems like a good thing sometimes. When someone dies, for instance, ugogo (grandma) dies, and that became the only way of uniting a family that was at the verge of breaking completely,” he said.
What makes the play stand out is reiterated humour, courtesy of Henry. He has a way of bringing out humour even in the most sensitive situations. When actors get emotional, Henry creates a diversion. Henry likes himself, the way he is, he says “phela mina ngiyi outtie egrand” (I am a great guy). The contrast between what he says and his looks generates a lot of humour.
All the actors in A Prayer for Grandma are at their finest. Henry’s cheerfulness, humour and warmth are as always enjoyable, Mama, is an honest person. Faith and Beauty have a good sisterly relationship. Dr Midzi has one of the smaller roles, but he helps the family have dinner with their Grandma inside a hospital ward, which makes him appear to be a good person although his intentions are to help Faith whom he also likes.
The setting used for this appearance is on point. There are no clatters. It is not difficult to differentiate what is what, who is who, the scene, the environment – are both convenient. Moyo coordinates the complex action and shifting emotional flows with admirable skill.
For while A prayer for Grandma is on the surface a convincingly drawn play about a family facing numerous calamities. Moyo, employs a formula to show more intensely that at times death is kind to us and that the wisdom of women brings the best in us.
This article was written by Nokuthaba Mathema, a freelance journalist and blogger who is also a women’s rights and HIV/AIDS activist. Her passion lies in human rights advocacy. She is also the winner of the Her Zimbabwe Young Female Freelance Journalist competition.
Main image by Nokuthaba Mathema
About the author
Her Zimbabwe has writers dotted around the world. We welcome contributions from interested parties on issues relating to women in Zimbabwe and Africa in general.
My grandmother, Margaret Alice Van Wyk, née Puth in South Africa, was the only daughter in a family of 7 brothers. She took care of us,5 children, as both my parents worked and I never realised how wonderful she was until the end of her life – and as I was ill, I did not show her love with my presence in her life.
My name ‘Marilese’ is a contraction of ‘Margaret Alice’ and I chose this ‘nom de plume’ to honour and commemorate my grandmother who was the best cook, seamstress, care-taker and helper there ever was. So I wish her spirit to feel the love and admiration I have for her as she felt lonely and rejected in life. She will never ever be rejected while my spirit exists to give her the love she missed in life!
My alias for my mother is ‘Queen of Hearts’ – obviously, she was imperial, and for my grandmother it is ‘Cinderella’ who served everyone – but who never went to the ball. So in the afterlife I’m going to take grandma Alice to a ball of admiration and delight – starting with my poetry!