Goodbye, Ate J!

I have been dreading this day.

Four weeks ago, my helper, ateJ, told me she was going home to her province to attend her daughter’s graduation… and that she wasn’t sure if she was coming back. Apparently, her parents are convincing her to go home and “retire”. She turned 39 years old last month, and having worked for several households over a span of 20 years is beginning to take its toll on her body.

AteJ came to my household from my sister’s in May 2003 after her position there became redundant (in other words, my sister was overstaffed! haha). She is almost the ideal house help – hard-working, reliable, fast-learner, gentle and patient with my children, always smiling, rarely complaining, not addicted to TV. She’s an all-around woman – from mending hubby’s old socks to repairing the leaky sink and the creaky washing machine (it has retired, by the way!).

Of course she has mood swings, and we’d sometimes have disagreements, but we were always able to work things out. Many of my relatives and friends call me lucky to have her. Indeed, I consider myself blessed.

So this dreadful day has come. As she was packing, I texted my husband.

Me: huhuhu, she is leaving in a while. My heart is so heavy.

H: Don’t worry. I’ll never leave you. I’m always here.

Me: Will you cook, clean the house, and help me take care of the kids? Wala na tayong electrician at tubera! [There goes our electrician and plumber!]

H: Oops. Oo nga. HUHUHUHU

What pains me, more than losing someone to do the chores, is losing someone we have grown to love and considered part of our family.

She bid my kids good-bye, hugging them one by one with teary eyes. I offered her a ride to the village gate, so that the security guards will not have to pore through her bags anymore. My two girls also wanted to come along, so they jumped into the car with us.

The ride was short. Of course I drove ever so slowly, hoping that she would see our sadness and change her mind and we will all drive back home happily.

Before she got off the car, we hugged, both of us tearful. She said she will come back.

I sincerely hoped she does.

I remember the time when I lost a valuable piece of jewelry. My sister consoled me, “That’s okay. You’ve enjoyed it for many years. Just be happy that you had it once upon a time.”

And that’s what I find telling myself now. Yes, consider yourself blessed that once upon a time, someone like AteJ came and touched your life. Now it’s time for her to go back to her family and take care of her child and herself.

11 thoughts on “Goodbye, Ate J!

  1. chats, your story seemed a reminiscing of the Inang Yaya movie.

    you’re indeed so blessed to have Ate J around. it’s very rare nowadays to find a househelp that’s very efficient and may malasakit sa family na pinagsisilbihan nila. and just as when you are blessed with such a houshelp, we thought: kung pwede nga lang,angkinin na natin sila as a family member, we’d be more than glad to have them. kaya lang, we have to admit that they too have their own families. and that’s what exactly happened to your Ate J. it’s about time that she take care of her own family.

    meanwhile, the challenge is now up to you to find a new one. hope you find someone like Ate J.

  2. Hi Feng. I did not get to watch that movie. Similar story line ba? hehe.. I’ve found a replacement already, but I’m not so sure… Good thing na summer so I don’t have to worry much since I’m home most of the time with the kids.

  3. Your post made me cry. It just touched me because I suddenly remembered my yaya. She has been with the family even before I was born. She has worked for my lolo then my mom. She was my yaya when I was a baby and I still call her yaya until today.

    Anyway, she said she might retire soon. She’s probably around 60 years old (she doesn’t know her bday because her mom lost her birth certificate when she was young and never got a reprint). We’re very close. I think of her like a second mom. We have another maid who does most of the work so she doesn’t really do much chores but she still wants to retire soon and live in the province. Thinking about it is painful so I was moved by your post.

    I do hope that everything works out for the best. I read in your comment that you have found a replacement. Hope she can easily be trained and be a great asset at home. Wishing you the best. Take care!

  4. it must have been really hard for you and the family–but she has her family, too. her family whom she has not physically taken care of because she was working in your household. people like AteJ are a rare find. now household helpers come and go, sometimes they come today and leave tomorrow. that is why most households nowadays are accepting the fact that soon, they will be faced with the reality that maids will become a rarity. Rose has been with us for 13 years now, but when the time comes that she will have to go, we will let her go, even if with a heavy heart. it’s good that my kids are already bigger, the youngest being 10. we will somehow manage. hopefully, the new one will be ok. if you want to keep her longer, the secret is–do not use AteJ as your benchmark, otherwise, you will have lots of expectations, and you will end up being frustrated. good luck!

  5. @ sexy mom: thank you for the advice re: benchmarking. I will npw be more conscious if and when I do that!

    @ Rach: I could imagine how you feel, having been with your yaya since birth! We will just have to let go. hay…

  6. Your AteJ sounds just like our YayaR!

    – hard-working, reliable, fast-learner, gentle and patient with my children, always smiling, rarely complaining, not addicted to TV. She’s an all-around woman –

    She’s exactly that! Househelp are a rarity these days so I always remind myself that YayaR is a blessing. She’s only been with us 2+ years .. from Day 1 after giving birth… but that’s long enough since I keep hearing about how my officemates’ or firends’ maids have left and are on the hunt for replacements. Kaya swerte daw ako.

    There was a time YayaR confided to me that she had once thought of leaving us for a better-paying job in Manila. I asked her if she found the tasks she was taking on too tedious. Hindi naman daw, pero mas makaka ipon daw sya pag dun. I told her that as long as she felt it was better for her and her son (6 years old), then I cannot stop her from pursuing ‘greener pastures.’ Alangan naman taasan ko sya sweldo ng wala sa oras. But I also asked her to think long and hard about what she would be leaving behind: her own son and my son whom she is crazy about.

  7. Hi May! Oo nga, you’re so lucky with YayaR…It’s hard to find yayas who love our kids like they were their own. Even my sister’s helpers are going on a “rigodon”- papalit palit.. It’s good that your yaya thought long and hard siguro and decided to stay…

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