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In a Flash

Susan Estrich on

There you are. There I am. Complaining. Deadlines and obligations. Bills and budgets. The empty nest. My dogs, ages 12 and 14.

And in a flash, none of it matters. Not one bit.

In a flash, I am doing what I shouldn't do: Googling scary prognoses.

There are all kinds of families. Some we are born into. Some we create.

When I moved to Los Angeles, a very long time ago, Rosie cleaned my ex-husband's house once a week. Since I paid Daisy more to clean my much smaller house, I upped Rosie's pay. Best I could do.

When my daughter was born, almost 30 years ago, I asked Rosie for help. Her children were all in school. She was my first and only nanny. She went through the divorce with me, back and forth with my kids. I didn't have as much money; I paid her what I could.

 

Family. I sent her to English classes. I tutored her for the citizenship exam. I stayed up for days on end when two of her sons were serving our country in Operation Desert Storm, one a Marine, one an Army medic. I fought with the school when it wanted to expel her youngest -- because he had epilepsy. She tells me that I taught her to be strong, but trust me; it was the other way around.

She cleaned houses seven days a week. Never took a penny of welfare. On the books since the beginning.

She told me she didn't need health insurance. This was before Obamacare, when no one would even sell an individual policy for a middle-aged woman. Except Kaiser Permanente. I've heard complaints about Kaiser. You will never hear one from me. Nine years ago, out of the blue, Rosie was diagnosed with lung cancer. In the Kaiser West Los Angeles Medical Center, in the medical director, Dr. Howard Fullman, and his staff, I found not only brilliance but also compassion and community that money cannot buy.

Rosie and I have been together every day for 30 years. Every day for the last nine years, I have worried about her cough. We wake each other in the night, coughing. And every six months, we get the good report. And then, I don't know when it happens, but you start expecting the good report.

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