Ever since I can remember, Helena has been a vital part of our family—I sometimes think the most indispensable part. My mother bridles anytime anyone refers to her as “the maid,” even though she does cook and clean up after us, which we certainly wouldn’t be able to do for ourselves. “Housekeeper” is more like it, but still makes her sound like a mere hired hand. “Mother hen” probably captures it best. No one could ever say a bad word about her. She is the kindest, sincerest woman, always greeting us with a cheerful grin. She says our family is her pride and joy aside from her daughter, Izabella.
I often wondered if we could survive without Helena. Fortunately, for the longest time we never had to find out! In all the years she had worked for our family, she’d only missed one day of work, and that had been when she gave birth to Izabella 21 years before. Those were some of the thoughts running through my head when I took the phone call from her that morning, wondering how on earth I was going to break the news to my mother.