Here is another take on people that help us.
I first met Oscar about 4 years ago when we were putting in our lawn to this new house. (The lawn in the photo looks much nicer than it is...mostly mowed weeds.) I had already started a few flower beds and it was early fall and I was attempting to clean out some of the areas around the larger plants. I could tell he was interested in my work and so I attempted a conversation in simple English. Oscar spoke Spanish but was able to give me some advice on some of my plants as he assisted with the lawn. Perhaps there was an ulterior motive to his attention, because later that month when we wanted to move some larger plants my husband gave him a call and asked if he worked outside the landscape company. Fortunately, he said he could work on the next Sunday.
Later we started that large paving project which disrupted that blue bird nesting I had written about. Oscar and his brother and other workers spent over a week in our front yard tearing up the concrete sidewalk, aligning the driveway, installing pavers and putting down a composite to hold them. They had to re-work some drainage and adjust a retaining wall. The supervisor, who was not Spanish but an overweight good ole' boy, rarely moved his butt from the tiny earth moving bulldozer as he provided advice to the three laborers through arm waving and calling out.
Oscar was smart, followed instructions exactly, even gave some good advice and we ended up with a lovely driveway.
Over the years Oscar has been an irregular Sunday visitor to our home whenever we needed help with a project that hubby could not do alone but which was too small a project for the landscape firm. He moved enormous plants, reset brick edgers, moved tons of earth, set up a small patio beneath my arbor and helped repair our deer fence. He is always gracious and his English has gotten better. Oscar has a generous smile and is a handsome man; I have watched him go gray. He has two daughters the age of our President's that he has to leave back in Mexico with their mother for months at a time while he works in the United States. He works at the whim of the landscape company. Today he told us that they are laying him off for three weeks because of the slow down in demand. He cannot afford to live here without a paycheck so is returning to his family during that time. I cannot help but think how expensive this must be. Expensive in monetary ways as well as expensive in personal ways. His daughters have grown up and he has been far away most of the time. He has had to live in a foreign land to earn money so that they can go to school, have clothes and a home. I wonder how much they miss him. I wonder if they will realize the sacrifices that were made when they have families of their own. This lifestyle is somewhat like the lifestyle that military families must face. Long days, perhaps even dangerous days, far away from their precious families. Except our military does get benefits in terms of retirement and health care. Oscar only gets an irregular paycheck. I am sure (?) that the company would hire local laborers if they could find people who were willing to work under such arbitrary conditions and at such a low pay level.
I get a deep seated guilt (such is the disease of the liberal heart) when he is here. We pay him slightly more than the landscape company and he is happy for the work, but I cannot help but feel uncomfortable in my safer lifestyle. I feel like I am in one of those Hollywood movies and I do not fit the part, or if I am in denial...I do not like how well I fit the part. I am blessed to celebrate the 4th in this country when I see the struggles other countries face trying to determine their path to a form of democracy that fits their culture and economy and with citizens that willingly come to our country for any job because they are aware of our unique freedoms and opportunity.