“View from the Backseat” by Alexandra Megia
Looking to my right, I saw parked cars and on my left another set of parked cars. One would think I’m sitting in the car in a parking lot but in reality, it’s a super busy freeway with just really bad traffic. Sitting in the backseat with me is my little brother. In the front is my dad with both hands on the wheel. It’s gridlock traffic but he just wants to make sure he has a handle on the car, just in case things get out of hand. And sitting in the passenger side next to him is my mom, Sister Rhodora Megia, trying to catch some sleep before the long night ahead of her.
That’s how we spent most of our nights as a family, on the road and on our way to another local congregation. Sometimes the drive was only ten minutes and sometimes the drive lasted up to four to six hours. Always depending on traffic and the distance we had to travel. So once my dad got home from work, it was off to a local congregation my mom was scheduled to visit.
We’d pack our homework with us and some toys and snacks just to keep ourselves busy and productive while mom was at practice. I didn’t always enjoy going with my parents because of how boring it got in the car. Stuck in the car without the luxury of a cell phone or iPad, can make a kid restless. But my parents would always make up for it. Depending on the local congregation we would go to, we’d either go to the park to play or to the mall to shop. But if there was a basketball hoop nearby, we’d stay and play ball with the other choir kids that were waiting for their parents.
We did this for years on end and most of my memories of spending time with my parents were always in the car. Always traveling to different places and meeting different brethren. I didn’t like it at first because as a kid I just wanted ‘normal’, and things to be part of a routine. That wasn’t the case for us. My mom’s schedule would always change. “We’re going to Oakland tomorrow!” She’d say. Only to last minute tell us, “You know what, we can’t go there tonight because Vallejo needs more help right now.” I would have a hard time with the adjustment, but my dad, the trooper, would reassess our family plans and adjust accordingly. “Okay, we can’t play basketball tonight, but let’s go fishing instead!” It would take me a while to get over this change of plan but eventually things would work out.
As time went on and my brother and I got older, these family trips became less frequent. We started getting a sense of how we wanted to spend our free time and began to opt out and stay home with our cousins. I didn’t realize at the time, but it would make my parents sad. Not visibly upset then, but I realize now, we were taking away the family time that they really wanted to spend time with us. But nonetheless, my brother and I stayed at home and they went on to the next practice. When I started driving and my dad’s job became more demanding, my mom would ask me to drive her to some of the local congregations for practice. Being a moody teenager, I reluctantly took her to the practices.
At one instance we went to a local congregation, and while I was bored (remember, no smart phones at the time yet, and homework was out of the question), I went inside the chapel to watch my mom leading the practice. Sitting in the nursery, I could see my mom standing in front of the choir. All attention was on her as the choir carefully listened to the instructions being relayed to them. It was close to their Thanksgiving Worship Service and looking at their faces, you could tell they anticipated what my mom had to say. With a few points here and there, the choir would respond to my mom’s correction. She didn’t have to yell or get mad, but instead, she lovingly taught them. She spoke to the choir before finalizing their practice. I don’t remember exactly what she told the choir, but the talk she gave to them sparked something. I could feel the Holy Spirit from where I stood behind the glass.
In the car on our way back, my mom was knocked out in less than five minutes and I drove home alone with my thoughts. Looking back on all the years on the road, seeing the quick paced view beyond my windows, moving from the back to the driver’s seat, I understand now what my parents tried to do when they would take my brother and me on these journeys. They wanted to spend as much family time with us while my mom performed her duty as a Choir Director. As much as they taught us sacrifice, the biggest lesson I’ve learned from them is to completely entrust your life to God, because He’ll never forsake you as long as you don’t forsake your duties.