Maid Service, a Dream Come True

by Bill Maranda

Maid Service, A Dream Come True

By Wm. L. Maranda

A while back I wanted to do something special for Mother's Day. Mom is getting on in years so with each of the various celebrations I had been trying harder and harder to get it right. Some events had been solid 'hits', but sad to say, most of the presents were rock bottom 'misses'. I'm not much good at knowing what people really want. I can never seem to figure it out. Not just with mom, but I can never seem to get it right for anybody.

It was during my morning swim. I was having company at my house for the Easter Holiday, so while practicing through my rotations I was mentally going over my list of 'things to do'. I felt somewhat relieved in that of all these 'things to do' the one big 'thing' I didn't have 'to do' was clean my house.

I have a maid service.

That is when it hit me. I remembered a phrase that mom often repeated while growing up. It came from having six reckless, wild children and an endless stream of their countless careless friends invading the crazy-land we called home. The rolling rampage of birds, fish, rabbits, dogs and cats, gribbles and mice, turtles and snakes strolling through the house didn't help matters either. This was a phrase Mom repeated so frequently it had lost all relative definitive meaning, like saying 'God Bless You' after a sneeze or 'Amen' in church.

"I NEED A MAID!"

And there it was. I had finally found the perfect present for my mom, full maid service.

When I mentioned this idea as a possible Mother's Day gift to friends and people at work no one seemed to appreciate it. Most people questioned the cost, but several others seem determined to rationalize the lack of a true need. One morning on my train ride into the City Central the conductor over heard our conversation and philosophically added,

"Throughout the entire history of the Universe

There hasn't been a woman that's been born on the face of this Earth

That doesn't feel that she not only DESERVES, but also is also ENTITLED

To full maid service."

I've had maid service for some time now, but this subject has always been a societal taboo, something one does not approach openly in public. It seems that a person can hire an electrician, a plumber or a carpenter without societies many negative reverberations. Under certain circumstances a lawn service may come into question, likewise with a window washing service, dog walking service or even a gutter cleaning service.

The degree and intensity of much of this criticism is never founded on the monetary considerations, as one would anticipate, but rather judgment is largely dependent on the gender, health and age of the homeowner.

But God forbid a grown man such as I, a bachelor no less, dare to hire a maid service.

So I go about enjoying my spotlessly clean house, never having to buy a sponge or a mop or lift a finger to keep it this way, but most importantly, never mentioning this to a soul.

It is not that I feel that I'm 'entitled' to or that I 'deserve' a maid. It is just that I have asthma, so I'm not supposed to be around heavy cleaning fluids. My daily roundtrip commute of three hours to work in the City Central is practically a part-time job, so time is also a relevant factor. But let's not forget the most important fact of all; I hate housework and it is a well-established fact that I will never actually do any housework.

So my dirty little secret is out in the open. Now I've come clean. I'm no longer a 'closet-maid-service' person.

My sister had a very nice Mother's Day dinner party that year. After our delicious meal mom went through the various cards and gifts, thanking the person in between tiny bites of cake and sips of coffee. When she opened my big blue envelope she seemed confused, so she set it aside and went onto the next one.

I stopped her and asked what the problem was. She said she wasn't sure what it was, the meaning of the card, it was for some kind of business or something. My sister sitting next to her then picked up the card and read it. Her head snapped back suddenly, she blinked her eyes a few times in amazement.

"Wow! Guess what Mom.

Your dream has finally come true.

You've got FULL MAID SERVICE!"

For years on end I was the favorite one, I could do no wrong.

This present was such a great idea. Each Mother's day I would renew the contract, so for the rest of the year none of my other presents really seemed to matter much. I could give mom a can of tuna fish for Christmas, just as long as her house was clean! I was the favorite.

After each maid service visit Mom would call me raving about the nice job the maids did. She would go on-and-on detailing how each task was completed: how they cleaned under the sink, took everything out of the refrigerator to do the shelves and the way they would do the bathroom on their hands and knees using stiff little bushes for the hard spots.

The relatives would frequently comment on how clean her condo was. "Considering her age and health it was a true blessing", often was said.

Of course I would then have to call my brothers and sisters singing aloud one of the more standard formal classics,

Nay, nay-nay, nay, nay nahhh!!!

Mom likes me better than YOU!

Mom likes me better than YOU!

Nay, nay-nay, nay, nay nahhh!!!

Who could possibly top that one?

Fancy dinners, theater tickets, gift cards and booze, for the next couple of years my brothers and sisters threw everything they could at her. No dice, I win, you lose. Might as well get off the bus buddy boy, 'cause you ain't going no-where. 'You can't touch this', as the kids now say.

Nay, nay- nay, nay, nay nahhh!!!

I am better than you!

Cause Mom likes me better than YOU!

Ha-Ha Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha

Mom likes me better than YOU!

Ha-Ha Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha!

Much time has past.

Mom is now in one of those in-between-places; 'Not sick enough for a hospital, but still not well enough to take care of your self' places.

It's very clean, friendly, nice enough and all, but neither you nor I or anybody we know would ever want to be in there. Most of the residents are able to get up, walk around a bit and do those simple geriatric exercises. Maybe their doctor has given permission for a supervised leave from the facility with a family member once in a while.

But in general, they have to stay inside, inside where it's safe.

In order to qualify for residence in here one's body must be healthy enough to function, as you cannot be completely dependent on others, but one's mind has to be pretty much gone. These are the people that you might read about in the paper when they accidentally let themselves out. They wander the streets until some Good Samaritan notices them walking the streets alone, talking gibberish, looking confused and bewildered. We call the police, to get them back in, back in where it's safe for them to exist.

An existence in here so powdered down a real actual functioning mind is no longer a necessity. The facility takes care of everything you need, and yes, even the maid service.

That's were Mom is now.

Mom got sick, to sick to take care of her self. But she's happy, very happy, but most of all she's safe, very safe. And believe me, it is a very good feeling to know that you can count on the well qualified staff to keep your mom happy, and safe, very, very SAFE, as their work is exemplary.

We have often noticed that for us, for our mom, we're the lucky ones. There are a lot of us kids to visit her, but some of the residents don't have anyone local as their kids now live out-of-state. Worst yet some of the residents don't have anyone at all to visit with. I'm not sure why, but George and Karen the regular day-keepers told me so. They aren't sure why either. On occasion a church group will show up to pray with them, talk nice and say pleasant things to them, but unintentionally pity is shed upon them. I'm not sure if this makes them feel any better, but at least they get some friendly company.

This is a fact that is very hard for us to deal with. Each time we visit Mom we can't help but feel a little bit sorry for the others, the ones that don't have someone to talk to. So we bring them little treats of cookies and fudge, too.

As best as we can we try to round them up, just so they can get the chance to play with our dogs and kids, or listen to our goofy stories about life on the outside world and eat a piece of fudge. We have even debated the possibility of sneaking out a whole bunch of them, for an excursion, a ball game or to the zoo, anywhere just to get them a day of life, real life, like Jack did for his unfortunate friends in "One Flew Over the Cuckoos nest".

I'll never forget the day my tiny little dog, Liberty Valance, wandered away out of sight. Not to worry as he's harmless and the place is on 24-hour lockdown so little Liberty couldn't get off the floor.

When it was time for me to leave I found him down the hall safely cradled in another resident's arms. She was in her wheelchair holding him tummy-up like you would a baby. She was talking baby talk to him, alternating between tweaking his little noggin as she kissed his forehead and scratching his tummy. We certainly all know how much dogs really hate that sort of thing.

And she was crying, smiling a gigantic happy-face grin and crying, as she told me,

"I thought that I was dreaming, and this was such a beautiful dream"

"I had feeling in my feet, the real actual sensation of feeling in my feet"

"It felt like I was dancing a waltz at the Aragon Ballroom once again"

"True actual feeling, IN MY FEET,

Something I have not had in ten or twelve years"

"When I opened my eyes I looked down

This cute little fellow was chewing on my toes!"

Well, needless to say, after that episode it took me well over an hour to leave her room. The dog just wouldn't have it any other way!

Everybody likes the dog, as he gaits about the many hallways of the facility. With those big bulging Chihuahua goo-goo eyes winking and a tail that won't stop wagging, Liberty flirts like a French sailor strutting down the Las Vegas strip in search of some hot action.

Then there was the time we bought to many Girl Scout cookies, so we brought a few boxes here for the residents. We were in the main TV room, next to the library. One old guy was half asleep in his chair and that devious little dog snatched the cookie from his hand while he dozed off.

It was hilarious. My dog is a Chihuahua so he's real itsy bitsy tiny. To get at that delicious treat the little guy had to stand up on his hind legs. Then he sort of 'danced' a careful tango in between the guy's knees to get at that darn cookie without waking him up. It was so funny, much better than anything you could possibly see on the TV set. All the residents in the room enjoyed it immensely. It was really something to see.

It was so funny I had to put another cookie in his hand as he slept. Some of the residents wanted to do it, too, so we all took turns. Then my sister, over and over again we did this.

Little Liberty only ate the first two treats, making a mess with the crumbs all over the carpet. But the daycare keepers, George and Karen, didn't mind the mess in the least. It's so very difficult to get a good time fun event around here, especially something of this caliber on the spur of the moment.

As the dog would snatch one cookie then another, he would scurry off down the hall and come back empty. With each return the seniors erupted with a chorus of muffled laughter not wanting to awaken our chimpy chump of a target. Where Liberty was stashing all these cookies God only knows.

Everybody loves the dog. He's so clever at making people happy.

For the residents this simple act of placing a cookie in the old guy's arthritic hand without waking him up was perhaps the most difficult physical achievement they've done in a decade. The frailty of their body complicated by a shaky hand and poor eyesight made this an endeavored task.

Our friend Megan, a gracefully petite woman, was resolute in doing it correctly. She firmly grasped her right wrist tightly with her left hand determined to steady her approach, setting the cookie ever so gingerly in the old guy's twisted crippled clutch. Successful achievement became illustrated as she pranced away tipsy-toe clapping her hands in expressive delight as she sashayed back to her seat.

This launch of joyful playfulness among the seniors made me appreciate my own seemingly shabby body all the more.

Eventually the dog nicked him and the old guy awoke oblivious to the spectacle he created for our enjoyment.

Everybody likes the dog. Liberty is such a card. I wish I could make friends that easy.

We all began talking about how with the dogs and the children and their parents and grandparents, how this lively interaction was good for the congealment of the atmosphere, given the odd particulars of their situation.

Today my Mom, much like many of the other residents here, exists only in a visionary, semi-fictional, imaginative state. Though they all seem very happy, you get the odd feeling that they know that their time is near. It is probably the medication that keeps them happy, I don't know for sure. But I can see in the hollow of their eyes that, other than with the boundaries of this confinement, they appear to be very content. Perhaps they have all led good lives, did not commit any major crimes, were not falsely guided by an obstinate force or did anything extraordinarily bad to hurt anyone. They are not fearful that the Maker of Life will punish them for their time here on Earth.

Mom's Life is not real now.

What we see and hear of mom is only the shadow of a glance from her physical reflection, as her mind never truly connects with the real living ones, the real living minds that is.

It's like when you are dreaming and you're having a vivid conversation with someone familiar to you. You know exactly what is being said. You know this person, perhaps even intimately. You know exactly what is happening, but none of it is REAL. This entire dreaming experience is just in your imagination. The people in this facility cannot tell the difference between when they are 'awake' and when they are dreaming.

They exist only in the realm between fantasy and reality. Like those people that do experiments while floating in a completely dark, enclosed tank of water, experimenting with the alternative states of the mind, an arena between consciousness and dreamland.

They cannot discern between these areas, but worse yet they can't seem to remember anything at all either.

Nothing. No recollection what so ever.

One time on my way out the front door I realized I had forgotten my short story notebook where I write these little thoughts. When I went back upstairs to the room my Mom thought that I had just arrived. She had forgotten that I was just there, that only a few minutes had past.

Imagine that.

She can't even hold on to five minutes at a time.

Sometimes she tells us she wants to go "Home", but she's not quite sure where about that place might be.

She has also called to say, "Pick me up from this motel" or "I'm at your apartment and when are you coming home?"

Then there's when she calls moaning about how someone left her there. When questioned further she's not certain where 'there' is, and she's not sure 'who' left here there. There's not much we kids can do with these calls, other than to tell her this is her 'new' condo, and it comes complete with full maid service.

We've all had these dreams, too. And obviously I've had them much more than most people so I can clearly identify with my mom's total experience. These are the dreams where you are falling or flying or sinking. Some dreams are fun, some not so much fun, and some are down right scary. But we really don't have much of a choice in the matter.

Matter. Is this mind over matter? Does it matter? Never mind!

This past Easter we had a very nice dinner party at my sister's house. All the friends and relatives were there. After the delicious meal during the coffee and cake we were all talking, telling stories about work, one kid's college, the other kid's upcoming wedding, vacations planned and all the various fun things we would hope to be doing this summer.

Then out of nowhere Mom began to tell us a story. Her eyes got all puffy; her glasses slightly foggy and maybe even a tear about to fall. She told us this story about the dream she had last night.

"I had this dream,

It was such a fabulous dream!"

"A beautiful, fantastic, spectacular dream."

"A dream I wish I could have each and every night!"

"A dream I will always cherish as long as I live."

"My country music was playing,

I had a glass of iced tea,

And I was sitting in my favorite chair"

"All these ladies were running around the house"

"Cleaning, cleaning like you would not believe"

"There was one in the bathroom on her hands and knees"

"Another one had a vacuum cleaner strapped on her back,

And she was actually vacuuming the ceiling."

"There were two in the kitchen and they tore it

apart to clean everywhere"

"It was fantastic, spectacular"

"Inside the fridge, the counters, the windows, everywhere"

"Cleaning, cleaning like you would not believe"

"And when they finished the whole house was spotless"

"Clean, so very, very clean, hospital clean."

" So clean that I did not want to ever wake up

from this fabulous dream!!"

The entire table full of people burst out laughing.

"That wasn't a dream Mom.

Thanks to Bill, you really did have Full Maid Service."

Best of all, yet once again, in a grand moment of splendor my brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews turned towards me and with voices emotionalized with devote Grace, in full octave chorus, they serenaded me with that standard formal classic,

Nay, nay- nay, nay, nay nahhh!!!

Ha-Ha Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha!

Mom likes BILL best

Mom likes BILL best

Nay, nay- nay, nay, nay nahhh!!!

Ha-Ha Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha!

Ha-Ha Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha!

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