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.