It’s been a long time since you worked for us.
It still grates against my inner conscience to even say those words, that you “worked for us.” But it was a challenging chapter of my life, and you were a breath of fresh air.
The friends who offered to hire you on our behalf could see that I wasn’t coping with a three-year-old, a one-year-old and a newly adopted six-year-old, so they said they would pay for you to come help me one day a week.
You would wake up in your shanty before dark to catch a taxi, then a train and finally another taxi before ringing the buzzer at our block of flats in the city. And it always felt strange to me that you would leave your own home and children to come help me with mine, and maybe I’ll never resolve it in my heart.
But you blessed us, and we loved you.
Not for making things easier or tidier or cleaner (which you did), but for the way your eyes sparkled and your smile shone even brighter, and how we laughed together when we sat down for tea or lunch.
I wish I had known more about your story, but it felt impolite to ask, at the time. I was glad for you when you came one day and told me you had found a full-time job as a nanny. I often think of you, and wonder how you’re doing now, with your wide and generous smile.
I’m grateful for what you taught me during our short time together, even if you didn’t do it on purpose.
How you showed me the strength of a woman. The dignity of work. The beauty of humility and service. And you did it all with such a radiant and contagious smile. And though we may never cross paths again in this life, I’m so grateful for the moments that we did.
Related post: A Day in the Life of a Domestic Worker
This is Day 13 of 31 Days of Life in South Africa. For similar posts, click here. To receive these posts in your inbox, enter your e-mail address in the sidebar on the right.