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Berdine's Corner

Walking Testimonies

by Kenney Dennard

berdine dennard
Berdine Dillard Dennard

Life Lessons from a Matriarch

What’s the point in being a testimony if you don’t scream it for the world to hear? What’s the point of being a true example of what God can do if you don’t shout it loud and clear? I’m an example. I’m a living testimony. In fact, my sister, brother, and I are living testimonies. My mother prayed hard and her prayers as well as a host of others’ prayers were heard loud and clear throughout my childhood. These are our stories.

In 1981, when my brother Herbert “Roy” Jr. was around 11 years old while attending a Dennard Family Reunion, he started vomiting nonstop. My mom took him back home to get some rest. He woke up the next morning feeling a bit sicker, still throwing up. The next day he was admitted into the hospital. Eventually, my brother ended up in a coma. After my parents talked to my sister Debbie, it was revealed that he had been bitten by a tick. She had remembered a spot on the back of the tick she had picked off of him. As doctors surrounded him, none of them had anything positive to say about my brother’s prognosis. One even said that even if he did come out of the coma, he would be brain damaged.

What I remember more than anything was how much everyone was praying. Being six, I was seeing some things for the first time. I remember being at my grandma’s house preparing to go visit the hospital. Suddenly, my sister broke down crying saying she didn’t want Roy to die. As the week progressed, I remember my grandmother Ethel Mae Dillard and her friend, Mrs. Annie B Flanders getting together in her back room praying and shouting out really loud. As a six year old, I had no idea what was happening. I remember stories of my Uncle Lee arriving back to Tuskegee where he was in school before calling my mom only to find out my brother’s condition had gotten worse. In my mom’s version of the story, the next thing she knew he was walking back in the door. (Tuskegee is at least 3 hours away from Macon). I remember stories of my other grandmother, Annie Kate Dennard coming in with some of the saints from her church, walking around my brother’s bed praying and shouting. I remember my dad saying that at the time he never really prayed, but he found himself somewhere praying to God as well. I remember my mom saying later that she made a promise to God that if Roy was healed she would put all of her children in His hands and make sure we all went to church every Sunday.

In the midst of all of this I remember going to the hospital and being told that I couldn’t even go up to see my brother in his condition because I was too young. I was made to stay in the lobby where I played with toys. Moments later, a miracle took place upstairs. My brother opened his eyes, woke up and said, “I want a hamburger!” And do you know what he said next? “Where’s Kenney?” The next thing I remember is my Uncle Paul Dillard coming down to the lobby telling me “Roy wants to see you!” I thought, “I thought Roy was almost dead.” Roy is a living, walking miracle. He is definitely a testimony.

About 3-4 years later, my sister started having seizures. From my perspective I can just remember coming home at about 9 years old to an empty house. That NEVER happened. I was free to watch cartoons. It wasn’t until around 6:00 that my Uncle Lee came and picked me up. I found out my sister Debbie was in the hospital. She had a petit mal seizure. At the time, the doctors were unsure of what had truly happened. The brain scans and EEG’s showed nothing. They said she may have just passed out.

A few months later, when I was ten, I personally witnessed her have a seizure on the first day of school of her senior year of high school. It happened as we all got dressed for school. This time it was a grand mal seizure. As my dad picked her up and carried her to the car, my mom franticly rushed and threw on some clothes and hurried out the door behind them to rush to the hospital. Once again, I was left alone with very little explained to me. All day at school, my mind raced, wondering what had happened and if Debbie was going to be okay. She stayed in the hospital a few days and was released. She was diagnosed with epilepsy although her scans never showed any signs of it. I remember my mom coming in my room one morning after my brother and sister had gone to school and attempted to explain to me what was going on. I remember her telling me to pray for Debbie every night when I got on my knees.

A few months later, she was diagnosed with Lupus. My sister’s life became very serious in her teens at that point as she was prescribed all these medications and had routine doctor visits with three different doctors. Because of the Lupus, Debbie’s joints hurt all of the time, she had rashes in her face, and she had sores in her head. Debbie said recently that she was taking 15 pills a day when she was in high school. My mom prayed hard. But Debbie, and the rest of the family prayed as well. You know how many pills she takes today? None. My sister is a living, walking testimony. She is proof of God’s power and the power of prayer.

Not even a year later, guess whose time it was to spend time in the hospital in a coma? Yes, yours truly.

The day before my 11th birthday, I was bored. I always loved to read and used to be in a summer book club at Shurling Library. On this day on July 8th, the day before my birthday, as I sat outside in 100 degree weather, I thought about a nice cool place I could go to explore…the library. I asked my mom if she would take me, and of course, she had no problem with that. I got the times confused on when I would be picked up. I thought it was 3:00 while my mom remembered 4:00. As I waited in the foyer of the library, I thought about the amount of times I had walked along with my teenaged brother and sister and cousins. As the hour passed, I decided to walk. The last thing I remember is passing what was Magic Market at the time.

The next thing I remember is waking up in the hospital the day after my birthday with signs and balloons hanging in my room. I had been struck in the back of the head by a car and had a major concussion. My head had been split open. I had been in a coma for a day and a half. Today, if you look at the back of my head, you can see where it was sewn back up with stitches. Yet, a week later, I was back home and a few months later, I resumed all of my normal activities. I am a living, walking testimony.

You know, during those days, I never calculated the timing of these events. Within 5 years from 1981-1986, my parents had experienced all three of their children in intensive care with life threatening ailments. We are all healthy today and walking examples of the power of God and prayer.

I thought many times as my mom fought cancer that we were going to see another miracle. But I watched my mom in front of my very eyes go from earthly body to spirit. That’s miracle enough. She was close to God, and He was closer to her. She knew how to get on her knees and get into the spirit and not just mutter a few words that as she would put it, “never reach the ceiling.” I am thankful for that, and I am thankful for what I have seen in my life. There’s nothing better than having a relationship with God, and there’s nothing more awesome than the power of prayer. My family all bore witness. We are all living testimonies.


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