by Angela Saxton
New Mexico, USA
I’m a widowed single mother of two boys. Like a lot of single mothers, I struggle to make ends meet. In 1999, we moved out west, seeking a better life. My boys and I packed everything up, lock, stock and cat, and moved 1,500 miles away from all our family and friends.
We were often lonely and homesick, but we also had reasons to be glad. We lived in a beautiful part of the country, and I finally found a satisfying job with a decent salary and, for the first time in my life, benefits. Still, I had a lot of debts to repay, and, while I was making good progress toward that end, making ends meet was always a struggle.
About six months after I began my new job, my stepmother called. The back pain my father had suffered for six months was diagnosed as cancer that had metastasized from his prostate to his spine. Now, Dad had survived earlier bouts of cancer, but this was a different story; three weeks after the diagnosis, he was in the hospital, and it didn’t look good. Unfortunately, I was broke, with no way to get the $600 I needed for plane tickets.
Management told me it had a policy not to lend money against future paychecks. I understood, but I was terrified I wouldn’t get to my dad in time. One of my colleagues heard about my predicament. He called me to his office and asked what was going on. I told him, trying not to break down. He looked at me very calmly and said, “You have to go home; what will it take to get you there?”
I blinked at him a moment, not understanding, and then explained. He wrote me a check for $1,000 to get us home, with extra for incidentals. He said there was nothing more important than family, and that I would regret it for the rest of my life if I didn’t get to my dad. I quickly offered profuse thanks, assured him it was only a loan, and said I would pay him back as soon as I could.
The next day my boys and I flew back east, and I was able to spend the last three weeks of my father’s life with him. It eased my grief to have that closure. When I returned to work the week after his funeral, I again assured my benefactor that I would repay the loan as soon as possible.
But he would not hear of it. I was shocked. He said that it was a gift, his privilege for striving to be a good man in this world, and that he was happy to have been able to help me in my hour of need.
No words can express my gratitude for this unselfish gift of precious time with my father. I can only honor my benefactor by seeking to follow his example.