My name is Maria and I’m Melodee’s housekeeper and cook. I guess I do a lot more than that around the place, but that’s my title.
I’ve worked for Melodee for almost 20 years now, and we’ve been through a lot together. It’s been a lot of fun, but there have been a few tears shed, too.
I remember when I first met Melodee. My husband of over 30 years had died about a year before I saw an ad in the local paper for a housekeeper and cook. I was bored and needed to get out, and the money would be good, too, so I called the 800-number and talked to a nice lady who wasn’t Melodee. The woman told me that she was Ms. Aaron’s (her words, not mine) business manager and she was doing some screening before the actual interview with Ms. Aaron. I wondered what I was getting myself into, but the telephone conversation went well and we set a date and time for me to meet Ms. Aaron.
I drove a little way up into the mountains and came to the address I was given. I was already nervous and the big gate with a man in a little shack didn’t help much. He asked my name, checked a list, and then asked for some ID. Once he was happy with everything, the guard told me to follow the road up to the house and not to go anyplace else. I did as he said since he had a gun on his hip.
Another man met me at the house and opened the car door for me. He escorted me inside and took me to a nice living room. He offered me something to drink and told me that Ms. Aaron (again, his words) would be with me in a few minutes. I didn’t see a gun on him, but I decided to do as he said, too.
I sat there sipping my iced tea and I looked around. The only rooms I’d seen were the entryway and the living room, and both were pretty big. The rooms weren’t dirty, but they were a bit cluttered. The rug could have used a good vacuuming and maybe a shampoo, but things weren’t too bad. The biggest thing that caught my eye were several empty glasses and a few used paper plates on end and coffee tables.
Before I could explore more, in came who I assumed to be Ms. Aaron.
She was striking, tall, slender, blond, and very pretty. I guessed her to be in her middle twenties someplace. And she moved like a bird with quick, jerky movements. She seemed to see me on the couch for the first time and smiled as she walked towards me. She extended her hand and said, “You must be Maria. I’m Melodee and I’m deaf. I can read your lips, but try to speak slowly and clearly for me, okay?”
I could only barely understand her speech. I can’t place it exactly, but Melodee spoke with a nasal quality, like she had a bad cold, and some words weren’t pronounced the ways I’d heard them before. But I managed to puzzle out the meaning. I stood and shook her hand and said hello.
We chatted for more than an hour, and I took an immediate liking to Melodee. As we talked, I found that she wasn’t hard to understand at all, but I had to really listen. I guess that’s something we should all do, but we take it for granted. I guess Melodee liked me, too, because she offered to take me on a tour of the house. And that’s where things got bad.
All I’m going to talk about here is her bedroom. There were dirty clothes all over and the dirty clothes often had clean clothes on top or under them. Dirty dishes were everywhere. A blouse she pulled from the closet looked it had never seen an iron, and the bed was a wreck. I don’t know if the carpet had ever been vacuumed.
The rest of the big house was actually a little better, but not much. That was another thing: Melodee lived there alone. The house had, at that time, 16 rooms and as far as I could tell, she used only 2 of them: the bedroom and her office. The other rooms were, I think, cleaner only because she never went in them.
The only exception was the kitchen. Whoever designed the kitchen knew what they were doing, and it was a cook’s dream. Perfectly laid out, all nice appliances, lots of counter space, amazing cabinets, and the place was cleaner than an operating room.
I guess surprise showed on my face because Melodee laughed and said, “I can’t cook. This is the first time I’ve been in here in more than a year.” It turned out that the guards kept the kitchen clean because they did their lunches in there. Melodee has a little refrigerator in her office where she keeps a few things to drink and sent the guards out for food.
Melodee shrugged. “I’m not the least bit domestic. I never learned to do all the stuff that needs doing around a house, so I need someone to take care of those things for me.” She smiled. “Think you’d like to be that someone?”
I didn’t even hesitate before saying yes.
Like I said, Melodee and me have been through a lot together. I’ve seen her flying high and crashing hard. I was lucky enough to see her find the man of her dreams and fall in love. I was at her wedding. I sat at the table when she signed the adoption papers for her daughters. I was there when her son was born. I was there when she almost died.
And I’ll be here until we don’t need each other anymore.
I guess we’ll both be dead by then.