Some of you may remember, last year on November 7th my final grandparent passed away. My mother’s mother; known as Nana, was 97 years old. We knew Nana’s passing was immanent but it did nothing to quell the pain. The real struggle was not so much the event of her death, but the aftermath of La Familia. My mother is the only daughter of seven children, and I am my mother’s only daughter as well. Mother was tasked with handling the estate and mediating her brothers who have . . . strong personalities. Knowing Mother is one to easily become overwhelmed; especially when all 30 plus members of her immediate and extended family are taxing her emotions, I (stupidly) volunteered my services. Thus, The Handmaiden Contract was born.
For a two weekends each month for a solid year, I would assist my mother in sorting, boxing, and cleaning my Nana’s estate. Reread the sentence and let it really sink in. At least six days a month, not counting the initial week of bereavement leave I helped my mother pack up her childhood home, sell it, and put out fires that rose from contesting family members. That is about 80 days (close to one fifth) of a calendar year.
Why did I volunteer this arrangement? Easy. I have no excuse.
- I do not have a husband, children, boyfriend, nor dog.
- My mother is grieving and not in her right mind to handle the on-going stress without assistance.
- She and I were raised in the archaic Hispanic tradition of Family Duty above all else. (i.e. Service/sacrifice is how they show love).
- And, I love my mother.
She and I may not always see eye to eye, but she gave me life and I appreciate all the ways she quietly loves me. This is my way of starting to pay her back.
Granted, it has been a roller coaster ride for me. My pitiful social life went down the drain, as did my laughable excuse of a love life. My own home’s tidiness tanked as well, since I was so exhausted most days from hauling furniture and thousands of boxes that sweeping my floor moved its way down my list of priorities.
Although my Nana’s estate is all nicely sold and transferred, my own parents are looking to move from their enormous house soon. I started assisting them while I am “still under contract,” but that ends at 5 pm on Sunday, November 27th. I would love to say this would be a weight off my shoulders. Alas, there is Christmas to get ready for and about 30 days to remove Nana’s things from my guest room and the entire garage, as well as the 15 boxes brought from my parents’ dwelling by the second week of January. As to why? I shall save that for another day.
I am just so thankful to have this year behind me, I am near tears.