It's a legitimate question I suppose.
Several years ago the Senior Cat ended up in hospital for three nights. I spent most of that time lying down and trying to get the energy to scrub the bathroom and wash the floors. I always did those things when he was not at home - and do them in a way which meant that neither of us had to walk on wet, slippery floors. It was a safety issue.
We both had the strain of influenza which was not fully covered by our annual 'flu vaccination. Without that vaccination the Senior Cat would not have survived and I would probably have been ill for much longer.
Middle Cat stepped in and sent over the woman who does her heavy cleaning. Middle Cat's sister-in-law had sent the same person over to her when Middle Cat had major back surgery.
P... has stayed with us. I realised that, hard as I tried, I just could not do the job as well as P... does it. She is younger, fitter and physically much more able.
P...comes to me for two hours once a fortnight and, for a ridiculously small sum of money she does the bathroom and the floors and then gives me whatever help I might need. We are gradually ridding the house of some of the detritus accumulated over nearly forty years. Last week we cleared a cupboard that had not been touched since my mother died twenty one years ago. We found some rubber stamps my mother had used for card making. I handed them over to P... and asked, "Do you think .... and ... could use those?" I was referring to her grandchildren who love cardboard, glue, stickers and more.
"Oh yes, why not? They'll love them." We went on through the cupboard. I handed over some more things for her grandchildren. I put things aside for the local charity shop. I found a book that needs to go back to the owner! There was fabric that I have passed on to someone who makes things for charity. We put some things back although I know I might get rid of those as well.
I looked at the little pile I had given P... and said, "I hope you don't feel as if I am off loading junk on to you."
"No, the kids will love that stuff. It's so useful."
I am glad of that because what I give her for cleaning the bathroom and the floors is, in my mind, so little. She won't accept more - and I would struggle to pay it anyway - but that still doesn't make it seem right. I could do it myself but I couldn't do it as well. P... also cleans a dental surgery. She has high standards, very high standards. She is one of those genuine "treasures" that people talk about.
But is she a "servant"? I suppose she is in a way but to me she is also a friend. She is someone I would be happy to "have coffee" with in fact.
Someone else I know is looking for someone to clean her house. She can't keep a cleaner. It doesn't surprise me. There are four teenage children in it. I have been there twice and on both occasions it was chaotic. I thought we were untidy until I visited them. This woman also has an unfortunate manner. She would treat someone like P... as a servant to be ordered around. I just couldn't do that. P... has all the work she wants and if she ever decides she no longer wants to help me then I will accept it. I hope she will help at least until I need to move from here...and that we can go on being friendly as well.
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