My grandfather introduced me to the sport of boxing in 1988. At the age of five, grandpa, also known as Command Sergeant Major Edward L. Polite, allowed me to snuggle up to him as he took in a week-day telecast of World Championship Boxing. Hearns vs Leonard 1 was playing on television, and I made sure that only inches separated me from the decorated war-hero.
For twelve rounds, both fighters sacrificed the best of themselves to become the victor, but by round 13, it was clear that Thomas “the Hitman” Hearns was too much for “Sugar” Ray Leonard. I remember exclaiming to grandpa, “He can’t win grandpop,” pointing with conviction to Ray Leonard’s corner. Grandpa chuckled while wrapping his strong arm around my shoulder and said, “Keep watching Mikey; the fight is never over until the final bell rings.”
Looking back on this fond memory, I now know that we were watching a replay of the 1981 match-up. The network was playing it to promote the upcoming superfight, Leonard vs Hearns 2 (1989). But I didn’t know that. I thought the fight was happening then and there. I was a five-year-old grandson who was thrilled to be watching his first boxing match with a real-life commander, and, at the fight’s conclusion, I was convinced that grandpa had magical powers. “Sugar” Ray Leonard knocked “the Hitman” out in the 15th and final round. Through my five-year-old perception, it was obvious. Not only was my grandpa an accomplished military veteran, but he could also see the future.
I don’t know why, but watching Jesher has triggered memories of my grandfather. I have heard that traumatic experiences can have this effect. It’s a coping mechanism of the subconscious mind. To compensate for the present negativity, the brain will attempt to motivate positive thinking by unearthing favorable emotions from the past. And as I watch Jesher battle in his 2ft x 2.5ft ring, I will often hear grandpa encourage me with his confident laugh: “Keep watching Mikey; the fight is never over until the final bell rings.”
I have kept my grandfather’s advice close to me during our NICU stay. Like Hearns vs Leonard 1, Jesher’s fight has ebbed and flowed with each round. Sometimes it seems like he is winning, and then other times it seems like he is tiring. I find myself watching my son much like I watched my first boxing match–with novice eyes and fidgety hands. The early rounds were tough, but our son has rallied as we head into the middle rounds. He is still punching. He is still in the fight. He is still the underdog, but he is slowly winning over the crowd. And although I get discouraged at times because it seems like he might be losing, the memory of my grandpa’s chuckle and strength return to uplift my spirits–a fight is never over until it is over.
Here is Jesher’s current medical report:
INTESTINES–Jesher has been off of his feeds for the past 48 hours due to precautionary measures being taken for NEC [Necrotizing enterocolitis]. NEC is one of the top killers of premature babies. It develops due to bacteria invading the intestinal wall and creating an infection of the intestine. Jesher’s belly was becoming noticeably extended (another way of saying his belly was beginning to bulge), so the doctors decided to begin antibiotic treatment as a prophylactic measure and stop his feeds. Thus far, all of Jesher’s cultures have come back negative. He is not showing any signs of infection. He started back on his feeds yesterday and is tolerating them wonderfully. PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY AGAINST THE DISEASE CALLED NEC; ASK YAHWEH TO DESTROY ALL DISEASES, DISORDERS, OR DEFICITS THAT WOULD ATTEMPT TO DAMAGE OR DIMINISH JESHER’S QUALITY OF LIFE.
BRAIN–The doctors are still holding off on any invasive head procedures. Jesher will have an ultra-sound on Monday to see how his ventricular swelling is trending. The Cerebrospinal fluid [CSF] in Jesher’s brain has not been draining as it should. The swelling caused by the fluid build-up can be highly detrimental to his brain development. Jesher did experience a slight decrease in ventricular swelling on his left side, but he also suffered a slight increase of ventricular swelling on his right side. PLEASE ASK THE LORD TO RELEASE THE NATURAL FLOW OF CSF IN JESHER’S BRAIN SO THAT HE MIGHT GROW IN WISDOM AND IN STATURE, IN FAVOR WITH GOD AND WITH MAN.
BLOOD–Jesher received a blood and platelet transfusion on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week. His blood volume (or hermatocrit levels) have risen, and his platelet levels are now over 100. We’ve noticed that when these numbers are low, Jesher gets really lethargic. This is similar to the fatigue symptom an anemic adult would experience. Jesher is back to his bubbly and active self, and we are thankful for the technology and staff that make these transfusions possible. PLEASE ASK YAHWEH TO STABILIZE JESHER’S BLOOD PRODUCTION AND BLOOD CLOTTING FACTORS IN THE NAME OF JESUS.
I think Grandpa would absolutely love seeing Jesher. Edward L. Polite always loved a great champion–a champion who took on all comers and didn’t shy away from a challenge. You see, great champions know great champions. My grandfather fought in World War II, The Korean War, and Vietnam. He, too, knew the perils of fighting for his life. He understood what it took to survive against the odds. He was a champion. And I have no doubt that Jesher’s great-grandfather would be so proud of him. He would probably stand next to me as I watched Jesher through the walls of his clear incubator, wrap his arms around me, and remind me of the time that “Sugar” Ray Leonard came back to win in the 15th round.
“For the LORD your God is going with you! He will fight for you against your enemies, and he will give you victory!” Deuteronomy 20:4
16 thoughts on “A Fighting Legacy”
Thanks so much for sharing this journey. It reminds me of our current battle on earth between principalities and powers. Like the re-run of your boxing match so many years ago we also know just how the story of life on this earth will end. Regardless of what the enemy may throw at us now, in the end Emmanuel will be victorious! Those of us who are faithful will be able to join our Prince of Peace! I’m praying daily for your family and for the specific requests for healing for your darling son! Keep fighting the good fight—each of you!!!
I never had the privilege to meet Command Sergeant Major Edward L Polite, but it is my privilege and pleasure to know his son ECP , his son’s son MP and now his son’s son’s son JP. Since apples don’t fall too far from the tree, the Polite fighting spirit is alive and well in Jesher. The Lord has preserved it for Him before he was born. The Victory has been preserved as well.
Michael, reading this, brought tears to my eyes because I can see your grandfather standing with a watchful eye over all of you and your grandmother close by. He was such a wonderful person and an amazing encourager. Know that you all are in our thoughts and prayers. I’ll email you a few pictures that I have of him.
“It shall come to pass That before they call, I will answer; And while they are still speaking, I will hear. (Isaiah 65:24 NKJV)
Mercy, Mike! The power and beauty of your words and faith in the midst of this fight are inspiring. Your grandfather would be soooo proud of you too. I am certainly am. Keep fighting brotha!!
We are lifting you all up! Our prayerline brothas are praying too!!
Praying. Praying. And still praying. Thank you for your courage and for sharing your heart. I praise God for these powerful testimonies.
Mike, like your father and grandfather, you are strong, and you recognize Who it is that provides your strength. I am still praying to Him on your family’s behalf!
Hey Mike! You and Jesher come from a tremendous heritage. Your grandfather was a remarkable man! I had the distinct privilege of talking with him and absorbing some of his unlimited wisdom; and being captivated by fascinating stories about his international military experiences, which he told so vividly that you were transported back to the scene as a listener!
BTW, your grandfather was the progenitor of the class, wit and charm you received from your dad. As everyone knows, your father is abundantly endowed with your grandfather’s spiritual tenacity and other gifts including the unique ability to love others and lift their burdens while shouldering his own: you received the gift from your dad; and now Jesher has it too!
Praying without ceasing!
It sounds like both you and Jesher have a lot of Edward L Polite in You! Praying!
Sometimes as I read your posts I wonder where God will use them. A devotional book for parents of NICU babies? Sounds too specific to be successful – but I would want to see that book in every hospital in the world. Your insights, battles, wins and FAITH brings me to my knees daily. Please know that Wahroonga church is still praying for you all. You are part of our family now and every one of us looks forward to that day we can meet Jesher on those streets of gold (or preferably before if you ever want to bring your family to Australia for holidays!) Love and huge hugs from Aussie. xxx
Mike, Lhorraine and Prizefighter Jesher Gabriel, praise God for His love, mercy and saving power! I wait impatiently for every update and I start lifting up your specific requests to the throne of grace as I read them. We’re going in boldly in Jesus’s name, trusting in His holy word because He’s never failed us yet! Thank you for bringing us into this journey with you, it’s wonderful to share this with you. I am certain that knowing so many are praying with you is encouraging God has blessed you with a beautiful gift for words, and you’re using it well.
Continuing in prayer and looking forward to our next update! “It’s not over until the bell rings, Mikey”!
Beverly and Tom Kirby
HOLD ON, DON’T LET GO – by Richard Smallwood https://youtu.be/jmPhHNQGjK4
Let this song encourage you. Much love!
I am praying every day for Jesher, Lhorraine and for you. Love you!
This is quite a story/testimony of your faith and courageousness for the Lord. I was at the edge of my seat as I read. WOW! Wish I could have met your grand dad. One day you, Jesher, and Lhorraine are going to be able to Take Jesher to the Korean Monument in DC and show him your Grandpops name and Make a memory with him there. Your gonna be able to show him all the books you read to him in the Hospital and all of these updates that you have been sharing. May you continue to find Strength and Courage God as you three walk on the road to Victory with Christ. We are praying for Jesher and you both. I Love you all❤️
I could not help but cry for the tribute and precious memories that you shared of your grandfather, my brother in law. He a champion fighter, encouraged others to be champion fighters. Your father, you and Jesher are from champion stock!
We are petitioning our champion Jesus Christ for the areas of Jesher’s health that you shared with us. We are pleading with Father God to prevent disease, disorders and deficits in the champion fighter Jesher G. Polite!
Wow!! Just read the Fighting Legacy post. I thank God for every one of Jesher’s blessings of improvement. What an encouraging story of courage. My father( who is no longer with us) was a boxer in the 1940’s with Joe Louis and others from that era. Will continue to pray prayers of faith for Jesher, knowing He’s able.