It’s been almost a year already since we had a household help. My family had always been self-sufficient—we got by on our own without a help—but when my mom first had her stroke, it was incredibly difficult not to hire one. My sister had just checked out of psych rehab during that time, and my mom pretty much had the run of the household. My dad and I used to be useless when it came to household chores, and spent most of our time working instead of cooking or doing the laundry. My contribution was limited to washing the dishes, while my dad did the “guy stuff” like electrical repairs or cleaning up the dogs’ mess.

My mom’s stroke was a huge blow to our lifestyle. Dad had to learn cooking, while I had to take over the laundry. Apart from that, we had to work. I couldn’t leave the house when Dad was out, and that really put a strain on my schedule, since I had to make sure that I timed client meetings when Dad didn’t have an assignment. The social life Marc and I had was limited to hanging out in front of the TV while watching over my sister and my mom. The tiring and stressful routine went on for a couple of months, until Dad and I finally decided we needed help.

The first help we hired was actually more concerned about her text-mates than taking care of my sister and my mom. She was more of a “household strain” than a “household help.” Not only that, but I found some of my cash disappearing if I accidentally leave them on my desk. Luckily, we didn’t have the opportunity to fire her, since she approached my dad one day and said that she wanted to go back to the province. The work probably bored her or something.

I can say now how we really lucked out on the second help we hired. Her name’s Marilyn, and she was probably the most industrious person I’ve ever met. She loved our dogs like her own, and had genuine concern for our family. She also had a willingness to learn, so I taught her how to type, use the internet, and some arts and crafts skills she could make use of when there wasn’t anything to do in the household.

Joyce and Marilyn at a family reunion in Alabang
My “little” sister and Marilyn at a family reunion in Ayala Alabang

The thing I admired (and appreciated) the most about Marilyn was her honesty. One of my clients at that time sent cold cash through express delivery, and I was able to entrust her the task of receiving the delivery when I wasn’t around. I not only entrusted her to receive Php20,000 bucks in cold cash, but also my valid ID, my letter of authorization, and my signature. She could easily have run off with the money and my identification, but she didn’t. She never did.

My Dad and I have considered enrolling Marilyn at a nearby college for night courses, but she had a better opportunity. She had a dream of going abroad (specifically in the Middle East), and her dream came true after a year and a half of staying with us. We were really sad when she left, and even she was crying on the day of her departure—my mom would never admit it, but she herself was also teary-eyed—we had already grown to love her and considered her a part of the family. But we didn’t want to stand in the way of her dream.

People like Marilyn are people who get good karma. I’ve always believed that. You do unto others what you want others to do unto you. Life just has a way of giving back what you’ve done—good or bad.

Sometimes, I really wish we had more Marilyns in this world.