"The grateful person, being still the most severe exacter of himself, not only confesses, but proclaims, his debts." ~ Robert South
Today, as our beloved helper Laura who is truly like a sister to me, leaves our home after more than a dozen years with our family to marry her hometown sweetheart and embark on a new life adventure, I feel the need to proclaim my debts to this wonderful soul. If there is anything I know right now, it is that God takes care of each of my family members because He sent us Laura.
Laura is one of the best people I know, and I am truly honored to have had her in my life. Her work ethic and integrity are sound and without blemish. And she is one of the most trustworthy people I have met.
She has a designated day for laundry and another for ironing. And two days a week she goes to the wet market. She learned to cook Mama's dishes, and serves merienda when my folks play mahjong. She walks our dog Tanya everyday and delivers lunch to my cousin who's office is walking distance from our home. She doesn't take orders on what food our family will eat, she actively participates and contributes to the planning of the menu.
I will miss our evening walks, Laura and I. We'd walk Tanya (and previously, Oprah and Aaron) in our village and catch up on things. She would confide in me and I would confide in her. When the former object of my affections would come to our home, I would see her in the corner, observing him. If she could will him to love me, I know she would've! It was comforting to have someone who was both friend and family.
She saw Papa through two strokes and Mama through AMD. She saw Eyo battle for his life against the Kawasaki disease. She was there when Noy and Ann got married. She was there when all three of my nephews were born.
Laura likes her karaoke singing and belts out a slew of songs all consistently out of tune. But always with gusto and emotion.
Laura has an easy laugh and crazy, untamed hair that needs calming down with chemicals every once in a while.
Laura became a bit of a majordoma when we added to our home team with the arrival of more nephews. She was their Manang (big sister) and she kept them in line but they always knew she meant well.
Laura was arguably the least paid helper in our village and she had more than enough friends to let her know that. But she stayed with us. Through thick and thin.
Laura is the reason we have a roof over our heads. When we lost the court case and were facing eviction, out of her concern she walked around our village and found a for sale sign for the house my family now resides in.
Despite her meager salary, every December, she would go to the wet market on her own and would come back with presents for my nephews. That always touched my heart. It gave me a glimpse of the kind of giving that I hope to emulate with my life.
As I write this, she's on her way to the pier. I wonder if the whole family went with her. Or if it was too painful for some of them to go and prolong the goodbye.
I was home last weekend on a work trip so I'm thankful too that I got to see her one last time. There were no tears then. Just warm smiles to each other, and a casual hug.
Papa and Mama want to go home to the province for her wedding and if I had the money to spare, I would gladly shoulder their airfare. But I know that Laura knows, that we love her to bits. And that we will miss her terribly.
She deserves every good thing and every blessing in this life. And I vow to do what I can to make sure she is well taken cared of today and always. After I pay the mortgage, I will gladly finance a business with her. Maybe she can make use of the cooking skills she learned from Ma to set up an eatery. There are many possibilities in her life and I am so happy for her now, even as I write this in tears and snot.
I miss her already. She will always be our Ambrosia. And I know once again, how much God loves me, because He sent us Laura.
"I am large. I contain multitudes." - Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass
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