“Always There for Us” by Reva Lachica Moore

I was paying for merchandise at a department store when I overheard the sales lady talking on the phone:

“Sir, I need a big favor. My daughter won first place in an Essay Contest for Black History Month. She is being presented tomorrow and I would like to be there for her. If it’s OK with you, I’d like to come in three hours later tomorrow morning. I could make it up by staying over, or coming in early the next day, or maybe the next time you need extra coverage, I’d be glad to fill in.”

After a few seconds, the sales lady hung up the phone and looked right through me, as if I wasn’t even there. She stood poised, her face somber, her gaze distant, and lost in deep thoughts. I didn’t hear her say “Thank you,” so I figured she didn’t get the OK.

“Ma’am, you need to take a day off. You have to be there for your daughter.” I spoke my mind, which instantly disturbed her motionless stance.

Her lips curved into a smile as she started to ring up the merchandise. “Yes, I will take a day off even if I have to call in sick. My daughter needs me,” she said.

On my way home I recalled the many times I, too, had fought hard for many years to take off for my sons’ activities. There were times when all I could do was cry. Many times, I had to fight the traffic to make it to recitals, baseball games, award ceremonies and other events. And once I got there, I’d see them searching for me in the crowd. I had used vacation days for activities scheduled ahead of time. But for unplanned activities, I was at the mercy of my co-workers. My supervisor’s usual answer still rings in my mind. “You can take off if someone will cover for you!”

Some years back, we witnessed a sad happening when J.R. and I were guest speakers at a high school graduation in the Philippines. During the awards ceremony, we noticed that each time Precious Joy, the salutatorian, was called to be given her awards, a co-graduate would come up to pin her ribbon on her. After her fifth award, I turned to J.R. and voiced out my thoughts. “Where are the girl’s parents? How inconsiderate of them not to be here for her.”

Somehow, in Joy’s disappointment, she managed to smile. She came to shake our hands while others consistently passed us over. After the event, she asked if we could have a picture taken with her. That night as I placed my arms around Joy, I felt proud like I was her own mom.

As we boarded the boat to Manila on our way home back to U.S., a young man handed us a letter from Joy. In the letter, Joy expressed her happiness to have us during her graduation. Then she expressed her aspiration to go to college, which seemed impossible, because her mother made only $20 a month and couldn’t afford to send her. We found out that Joy’s mother managed a store for someone, which kept her from attending Joy’s graduation night. She was not allowed to take off.

After we got back home to Louisiana, we decided to send Joy to college. A week before school started, we sent her an e-mail. “Pack your bags. You are going to Adventist University of the Philippines in Manila.” Today, Joy works as a registered nurse in Canada.

Working parents often miss out immensely on their children’s activities because of demanding jobs, deadlines to meet, and meetings to attend. It’s not easy to find an ideal job where you could take off anytime you wish. When our children were young, my husband Edwin decided that no job could keep him from attending our sons’ many activities. He turned down a promotion and decided to have his own business so he could make his own schedule. He felt that a parent should always be there for his children.

In 1998, our son, Adam, was in the top five of his graduating high school class. I took the day off to attend this special event. However, Edwin, who had been battling a malignant brain tumor for a year had excruciating headaches and was too sick to attend. I suggested that he stay home. But Edwin wouldn’t hear of it. He got dressed and went with us. Although he managed to smile, his excruciating pain showed in his eyes.

That night Adam’s happiness couldn’t be contained, for Dad was there for him. The picture I took of Father and Son showed a proud father with his arms around an even much prouder son. A month later, Edwin passed away. We will always remember that memorable night.

But best of all, let us remember that we have a Heavenly Father Who is always there for us even in the worst of situations, even in sickness and NO MATTER WHAT. The whole chapter of Psalms 23 tells us just that. “…..Ye though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou are with me.”