Monday, September 30, 2013

so hard to get good help these days

It must be nearly two years now since Aunty moved back to Melbourne to stay with us. It's been wonderful having someone to cook and wash and iron for us, and look after the "kids" if we are away visiting TO's mum.

With our new live-in Filippina house maid to do the floors, I thought I had it made.
JJ told me she is "The Floor Manager"… "Fine," says I, "you can promote yourself, but you are still only getting 35 cents an hour."

Aunty had a nasty fall a year ago which exacerbated some pre-existing conditions, but she has soldiered on. The only setback was the great runaway supermarket trolley disaster of Jan 2013, which means I have had to do the shopping myself, again.



After my mother passed away in March, I offered to go with Bro 2 to Murchison to clean out her room. "8 o'clock sharp," his email said. I arrived at Murch at 7.50 am, while he sat in Hampton Park fuming because I was late for my ride.

Oops. Communication breakdown.

Bro 2 was going to leave most of mother's stuff behind for the use of new residents. I was happy to leave the wheelchair – the best in the world after 3 months of stuffing around to have it adjusted for her [lack of [ height.
It was made of some super-light super strong space age yankee metal, and had solid rubber tires – at 48 kgs mother had little trouble manoeuvring around her room.

Shampoo, baby powder and more – all of it was useful so I kept it. Some new [still unwrapped] singlets and shirts found their way to the Philippines. [What can I say… mother was a bogan. Tracky pants, flanny shirts and moccasins.]

Asked Aunty if she wanted mother's [unused] wheely walker. "Oh, suppose we should keep it, just in case I need it one day."

Really, I'm only cheesed off because mother had the world's best, full length shoe horn, and some mongrel beat me to it.

Aunty tripped about 8 weeks ago which has further aggravated pre-existing conditions. The only way the ambos could get her up off the floor was to put their feet toe to toe with hers for balance, because she has very little movement or strength in her arms. Since then she has suffered a great deal of pain in the hip/groin region. The wheely walker has been very handy.

It was hard for her to sleep before because of torn muscles and tendons in both arm sockets [apologies for the medical terminology but I can't think of a simple way to explain it]. Sleeping has become even harder, now, because of the extra effort in turning from one uncomfortable side to another.

TO managed to get her at the top of the cancellation list for when the orthopod returns from leave – TO is certain the problem is muscular and treatable by injections.


Happy days! For the past 2 days Aunty has been feeling much better. Her cloud of depression and feelings of hopelessness about the future have lifted a little. She sat on the walker in the kitchen while chopping up vegies, but cook she did. Nobody does a better braised steak.

TO's work uniforms hung over the door, freshly laundered and pressed.

Welcome back, Aunty!



  1. Seems like she has a quite strong desire to continue to be a contributor to the household. You are paying your Flip maid too much and breaking down the working conditions of Flip workers back home.

    1. Yes, I know 35 cents is too much, but if I only gave her 30 I wouldn't be able to sleep at nights.

  2. Your aunty is a diamond keep her.

  3. Diane, there are no words to explain how much she is treasured or why. Can't think of anyone less likely to go gentle into that good night:)

  4. oh dear the angst of that little '8am' failure - and you are usually right on the ball FC. Your radar should have been heightened by the fact that you were dealing with a Brother. Aunt sounds like she is my age/condition and fashion style hero. Round the www there is a great image of Miss Bette Davis at her oldest, with a strong drink and lighting a ciggie and the speech balloon says 'Old age is not for the faint of heart'.

    Was that long shoehorn usurped by a stranger? I had to pack my fathers palliative room a few weeks ago and his new walker was missing, his Samsung Galaxy bought in April for $250 (cash to the cleaner by the receipt I found) was missing too. I was too tired to mention this to management before my 4-hour drive home thinking on that old homily 'get old enough to be a problem to your children'.
    My shameful vice is reading the Help ads in The Lady magazine (they read it at Downton Abbey) and 750 pounds per week is the going rate for a live-in. Don't let your Ms Marcos find a copy of that.

  5. MS, I think I'm just naive - what I thought was an offer of help to a distraught brother was taken as a request... as usual.

    Old age is definitely not for the faint-hearted. When JJ arrived she was shocked that so many people could live to such an advanced age. Not a nice place, where she comes from. In turn, we have yet to find some balance between quality and quantity. All the people that gave Aunty's life great quality have gone, along with the ability to swim, play golf, or go out dancing. She lives in terror of becoming a burden because the law claims great respect for life but shows little.

    To be fair, mother could have given the shoehorn away in an unusual fit of generosity, but when I arrived everything had been packed in a rather indecent haste. Everything else including small things of value were found when I got home. The people at Murch are infinitely more caring than any at a dozen other facilities I've encountered, and have often proven themselves to be scrupulously honest.

    Sorry to hear about your father - at the risk of sounding trite, though, it seems to have taken too long. Why do our olds all live so far away? [As for AO'D catching a bus to Rosebud... the mind boggles.]

    Bugger Ms Marcos... for 750 English pounds a week I would consider doing some housework myself.

  6. lol at at Ann. I think I will apply for a job as a live in, in England.