Growing up we never had a housekeeper, with eight of us there was always a chore list of who was responsible for what. As a single mom, I found it more of a necessity than a luxury. Over the years I’ve had some amazing housekeepers, some with interesting quirks.
When we lived in Southern Maryland, I had my first experience with housekeepers. I forget how we found her; we had an amazing woman that would clean up my kids’ trails in addition to the tasks you would expect. Trails were the expression that had emerged to describe belongings that had been left all over. Trails quickly identified all the spots in the house that they had been to. For instance – backpacks on the floor by the front door, potentially followed by a coat, and pieces of the school uniform, by the time we got to the bedroom it would be whatever outfits had been tried on. Then various trails of snacks that were tested, books that were perused, and games and toys that were brought out. Picking up trails was no small feat. Additionally, if I left something prepared for dinner with the time and temperature it was to go in the oven, she would start it for me.
The house we lived in at the time had electric baseboard heat. It was nice that you could control the temperature in each room. The downside was the heat was HOT. It meant you had to be careful about how close things were left to a heater. For instance, I left a trash bag sitting near the heater in the kitchen. When I picked it up to take it out the heater had melted a hole in the bag and the contents quickly spread across the floor. I never was able to get this across to the housekeeper how hot these heaters were. In cleaning up the trails a white stuffed teddy bear ended up sitting on the heater for too long. The bear had a brown streak from its butt to its ankle. From that day forth it was known as diarrhea bear.
When we moved to Annapolis, we tried several commercial services. These didn’t work well for us as we missed the personal nature of the independent operator. We finally found one we liked. Again, I don’t recall her name. But again, she was inclined to do the little extras that made the relationship magic. That is until that fateful day. I was training to run my first marathon and had had a particularly bad run. When I returned, she had rearranged my kitchen to make it easier to clean. As you might guess, my reaction was far from positive. I opted to shower and cool down before moving forward with my initial reaction (fire her). The shower and cool down time got me over the bad run but did not change my mind about the kitchen. You just don’t rearrange another person’s kitchen. I called and left a message for her not to return.
The next housekeepers were adequate but unremarkable until we met Karen. Karen was effectively a member of the family. The things she did for us are too numerous to mention. Just before COVID, she was diagnosed with lung cancer (years ago she’d beat cervical cancer). With COVID we have taken over the cleaning. Sadly, Karen lost the cancer battle. Heaven has an amazing angel but we miss her deeply. Knowing her has left me with infinite legacy moments.