Rural Living

My Shameful Secret: I Am A Kept Woman


by Margo Oxendine, Contributing Writer

Margo Oxendine

I spent this morning racing around the house, straightening up.   

Any woman lucky enough to have a daily, weekly, or even occasional housekeeper knows the drill: You must clean up before she arrives.

The table is strewn with mail, magazines and newspapers you haven’t read. Those must at least be organized into a “neat” pile. It wouldn’t do for her think you have a tendency to let things pile up and get, ahem, out of control.

All the newspapers and magazines you have read must be gathered up and put in the recycling bin. It wouldn’t do for her to think you mean to toss them in the trash. Sometime. Perhaps.

The muddy doggie paws across the kitchen floor need a quick swipe with a damp mop. It wouldn’t do for her to think they’d been there for days, even if they have.

The sagging plants have to be watered, and the dead leaves snipped. It wouldn’t do for her to think you neglect something until it absolutely screams for life-saving attention.

I am very fortunate to have a housekeeper. That’s something I confess, rather than proclaim. After all, I am a woman who lives alone. How much dust and dirt and detritus could I possibly accumulate, that I would need to hire a housekeeper? How lazy must I be not to get off my duff and do the dusting, vacuuming, floor washing, scrubbing, sheet-changing and sweeping myself?

Well, I guess the answer to those questions would be “quite a lot” and “quite lazy.”

I do not consider myself lazy. I have three writing jobs, one of them full-time. I am also a realtor, though that’s easy to forget these days. I also am a member of a community theater troupe that takes up a large portion of my “free” time at least twice a year. I keep meaning to put my various columns in a book. There’s something un-lazy that will take some time.

I spend a lot of my spare time reading. Some might call that lazy, but a girl’s gotta relax every day. And, I have again reached the age where afternoon naps are in order. I remember being forced to take a nap as a girl. I’d loll around up there in my room, muttering, “She can make me come in here, but she can’t make me nap!”

Now, I’d pay to find time for a nap some days.

I have a wonderful housekeeper whom I’ve grown to love for the fabulous, no-nonsense, creative and industrious person she is. “Jan” is a woman of heroic proportions to me. She actually went on the Internet, found out how to re-roof her house, and did it. Ditto with putting a new muffler on her car. The woman can do anything. I’m lucky to have her on my side.

There are silly, seemingly common-sense, things I cannot do around here. Anytime I think, “I need a rent-a-husband,” I think, “That’s OK; Jan will do it when she comes Friday.”

She will change out the storm windows for the screens, lest I, God forbid, break a nail struggling with it. She is tall; she can change kitchen light bulbs, and dust the tops of ceiling fans.

Remember my bat family? Bob and Brenda and Biff and Buffy? I was beginning to be quite wary of them, lest they become fruitful and multiply there in between my screen and storm window.

I came home last Friday. I begged Jan to change out the windows. She sighed in a joking manner. Then she said, “You haven’t even noticed I got rid of your bats.”

Huh? Ha! Sure enough, Jan had the gumption to take a long thin stick, poke them awake, and stir them out of their daily nesting spot. Then, she fixed the window so they can’t come back.

I hired Jan to help out my mother when she could no longer keep up with the housework. I considered it a good deed.

The Christmas after Mom died, I didn’t have the heart to put up decorations. I came home late one Friday to discover Jan had bought a little Christmas tree, decorated it, and left it bright and shining to welcome me home. She gave me a necklace I wear every day. She somehow found a funny flamingo plant holder, knowing my affinity for the goofy birds. Talk about good deeds! The little I pay this dear friend can never be enough.


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