I haven't seen the movie The Help yet. I am kind of putting it off. The book was a wonderful story but was pretty sad to me. It is set in the area I grew up in. My Momma played bridge a bunch with her friends and went to Ole Miss like Skeeter. When Kathleen and I were little we had Lilly who would come and stay with us. Momma used to go to a club called Mid-Century and to play bridge. Lilly was so great, she was always happy and loving. She would basically just play with us. I was so sad when Lilly quit to take a job with benefits.
Mary Freeman used to come every Friday. Mary did the deep cleaning and she was a machine. She smelled like cloves and Vick Vapor Rub. She was very high energy and she was the first person I remember "worrying" about me. We are not a family of worriers and I think that fact worried Mary even more. In fact we had a saying "You're Marynoid", meaning you worry too much. I remember pretending that we were Harriet the Spy and listening in on her phone conversations. I am sure she knew what we were doing. I loved coming home "sick" on Fridays because Mary took great care of me. She would make me grilled cheese and applesauce and serve it to me in bed. We would take her to public school system after she worked most of the day with us for her 2nd job. I hadn't thought about that being a second job until just now. She never complained or acted like she was tired ever.
Heloise started working with us after my Grandmother got remarried. She would come twice a week and was the best cook I have ever known. She would do all the laundry, iron, and cook a delicious meal. She was always sweet to us but she would put us in our place too. Kathleen, Heloise and I would all stop (if Momma was out) what we were doing to watch our "stories". Our favorite was "As The World Turns." Momma did not like us to watch these but Heloise never told on us. We walked in and out for the other CBS soaps but Lilly and Holden had our attention. As I got older and didn't have time for soaps I would take Heloise home just so I could get caught up. She always had a detailed report. I ran away one time when Heloise was taking care of me and I still feel so bad I gave her that scare (a story for another time). Heloise's chicken fingers were so good someone in my class would steal them out of my lunch bag (that was before Chick-Fil-A). Heloise sat with the family at my wedding and she looked so beautiful on that day. Brian adored her too. My sister Sarah has said it well in saying that Heloise is one of the first people she wants to find in heaven to thank her for all she did for us.
My Momma has some help twice a week now and her name is Nita. She was one of two people who could get Clara to stop crying when she was an infant. I would come home when my kids were little and she would take care of my babies (all while cleaning the whole house). Momma and I would go and get out not to Mid Century or bridge, but something like that. Nita is pretty much one of smartest people I know. She was an American Picker before they were. She and her husband have a business re- selling items. She has survived so much: an abusive ex husband, losing a child and having a son in jail. She is such a happy person too, but when she is not we take care of her. Other day she called while my Momma was in Birmingham and said she had gotten stung by a wasp. We told her what to put on it then, my Dad's tobacco and Momma called the local pharmacist to get him to put what she needed in the drive thru window. Nita told Brian at our wedding "If you hurt my baby, I gonna roll you!!"
So the story of these strong women is very personal to me. I admire these women so much. I mean my generation is one that has to be appreciated, respected and cherished at all times. These women sometimes had none of these things but did what they had to take care of those they love, their family as well as other people's families. God gave these women strength to endure and not just endure but help others endure. My Momma while we were growing up, and me when I had my own kids. Nita's granddaughter (daughter of her child that died at 14) is starting college this fall. Nita has worked so hard to guarantee she made it there.
The Help is a cute, fun and sweet story to most like Steel Magnolias. To me it is a real story about mothers of the women who helped raise and take care of our family. So I feel a little protective of them and their story. I might be presumptuous to say this but I feel certain this is how Katherine Stockett felt while writing this story. I think I will just go by myself one afternoon so I can cry if I want to.