Home Help

I finally come back to the subject of home help.

https://auntyuta.com/2020/09/10/grandmother-hulda/

In the above post from the 10th of this month I wrote the following about my paternal grandmother:

‘At the time grandmother was still doing a lot of cooking for her whole extended family. As I remember it, she would spend a real lot of time in the kitchen where she was being helped by two young Polish girls. This brings me to the subject of home help. I want to write about this another time. Actually, I think about this constantly, why on earth the average elderly woman in our society is these days not in a position to have some home help, usually not until she is very feeble and can hardly do anything herself anyway.’

And I said, that at the time (about 1940) grandmother would have been close to 68. From 1945 on as a refugee in Germany she lived a very impoverished life until she died in 1950, lovingly cared for by Elisabeth (Lies), her youngest daughter. Now, my maternal grandmother, Olga, never had any home help as far as I know. But for most of her life she had sombody close living with her.

My mother-in-law, Frieda, was born in 1900. Her working life at the Post Office lasted for 40 years. She retired at 60 and then lived another 27 years. The last few years of her life she needed a lot of home help, which was provided by her younger daughter Ilse. My mother, Charlotte, born in 1911, also needed a lot of help the last few years of her life. Charlotte was helped by granddaughter Corinna. Both Ilse and Corinna received a small amount of payment for their efforts. Frieda as well as Charlotte were able to provide this payment out of their pensions.

I was born in September of 1934. As I remember it, during my growing up years, we had always some live-in home help (called ‘Mädchen’). This ended only in January of 1945, close to the end of WW Two in Germany. Even during war time my mother was allowed to have home help because she had three children, and she also was not required to accept a job, whereas women without any children had to go to work fot the war effort!

I guess in the past any home help would have been paid substantially less than what is the going rate these days. That means, a lot of elderly people are not in a position to adequately pay for home help. This is where in our society we expect the government to chip in. Alas, government funds for social services somehow do not seem to be able to cover every needy elderly person. And families these days do not live close enough any more, to be able to be of help on a permament basis. Besides, most younger family members are usually in full time employment and also are inclined to help younger family members with raising children where that is possible because they live close enough, and when they can spare enough time away from work.

So, societies have changed. Social conditions are verty different from what they used to be. Still, a lot of people do have no job security and can be out of work any time. Some people offer to become ‘volunteers’, meaning they work for very little pay. But then, the people who have enough resources to function as volunteers seem to become pretty rare. Maybe in future more and more people are going to become very needy in old age? Or just wont live that long any more? So, is it going to sort itself out in the end? I don’t know.

Referring to some Observations in the recent Uta Diaries

I started yesterday morning with looking at some of my drafts and I decided it was about time that I should get rid of all the drafts that I did not need anymore. The first draft I looked at I wanted to publish rather than seeing it ending in ‘trash’. I love Di Morrissey’s books and am very impressed that she is able to write a comprehensive well researched novel every year. She wrote already 27 novels. I believe most of these are bestsellers. Here is what I found in Wikipedia:

“Di Morrissey AM is one of the most successful novelists of Australia with 27 best-selling novels and five children’s books published. Wikipedia

Here you can find out more:  http://dimorrissey.com.au/about-di/

 

 

And I referred to this video in yesterday’s diary:

“Jennifer Byrne presents an interview with Bryce Courtenay, Lee Child, Di Morrissey, and Matthew Riley.”

 

I always liked to watch and listen to the Jennifer Byrne interviews. Bryce Courtnenay’s books I used to be very familiar with over many years. I still own some of his books. Wouldn’t I like to read again and again these books: Maybe, maybe one of these days when due to the Coronavirus I am going to have lots of spare time, I am going to read, read, read!

Further on yesterday I published this item about how migrant workers had to clean up university students’ mess. So what I had observed about the life of cleaners during my long life, this is what I really had wanted to write about.

In my following diary posts I mentioned about the help that my family used to be able to afford. Some people were actually honorary helpers, like Tante Mietze who for many years lived with Peter’s family and tirelessly did all sorts of work for the family right into very old age. She was a real jewel and all the family still hold her in high esteem many years after her death.

I guess that most people cannot afford hired help any more these days, is partly because cleaners and all sorts of workers can these days demand higher wages. If for instance people employ migrant workers and try to underpay them, it is said they are being used as ‘slave’ labour.

I always had this opinion when in a family with several children both father and mother have outside well paying jobs, the wife’s salary should in the first place be used to employ some home help. Why else would a woman want to have an outside job if it did not pay enough for some home help? Now, I would very much like my readers’ thoughts on this. Please, do not hesitate to make a comment, when you do not agree with my opinion on this.

Another topic would be how do families cope these days with separation or divorce of parents, and how do wives fare then if they do not have a well paying job.

Uta’s Diary continued

I am still on the subject of cleaning and home help. This morning I mentioned in my diary how Peter’s mother and my mother managed in old age.  This is what I wrote:

Both Peter’s father as well as my father did not live to a very old age. So age care was not an issue. Both our mothers though did live into their eighties. How were they cared for? Well, my mother paid her granddaughter to come in on a regular basis and do some work for her, and Peter’s mother paid one of her daughters to do some work for her. Both mothers lived in a very small apartment when they were at an advanced age.

Peter’s mother was actually towards the end of her life in a care home. She had one room in that place. She did not like to eat anything except for cake. I think she was 87 when she died.  My mum ended up in a hospital after a severe stroke when she was ‘only’ 83 and she very soon passed away then.

Peter’s mother trained to work as a child carer after leaving school early. Probably when she was only 14. But soon after her training she joined the postal service, where she retired from with an adequate pension after 40 years service. Since she had three children, she was lucky that her aunt, Tante Mietze,  offered to stay with the family. So there was always somebody there for the children when Peter’s parents were out working. Peter says, his father would have preferred his wife staying home and not going out to work. But since Peter’s parents separated and divorced after the war, the mother was only too glad that she had never given up her job and that she still had Tante Mietze to look after the family.

My mum had in the 1930s and until the end of the war in 1945 always some live-in home help. The home help was called ‘Dienstmädchen’. These girls were rather young when they were employed. During the war we had Maria, who was Polish from the city of Lodz. Before the war we had every year another girl, all of them German girls from the country. I think I wrote a lot about Maria in my ‘Childhood Memories’. It seems to me she was extremely intelligent and efficient. Even my very demanding mum could not find any fault with her.

By the way as far as I know, Tante Mietze was from the country. At age 14 she moved to Berlin to be employed by a prosperous Jewish family as one of their home helps. This was before World War One!

Now I want to mention my father’s parents. They were German citizens who lived in Lodz. The Germans in Polen at the time were going back several generations! The grandparents had six children, and all of them married and had children. Grandfather was a ‘Tischlermeister’ (joinery master) and all his life self employed. At some stage he had a lot of people working under him. I am not sure what sort of home help grandmother may have had when she had all these children. I am sure the older children would have helped with some of the younger ones. Anyhow when I knew the grandparents. grandmother always used to have two very young Polish girls to help her in the house. However, in January of 1945 the grandparents as well as all the family, that was still residing in Lodz, had to flee the city, for the Russian army was getting very close. Nearly all of them made it to Germany. They were  on the road in freezing temperatures. My uncle Ludwig, who was the grandparents’ younger son, had married late. I think he was in his forties and therefore not required to be in the army. As far as I know he was right to the last still doing his best filling army orders in grandfather’s furniture factory. Anyhow, Ludwig was married to Hilde and they had a young daughter and a new born son, who did not survive the escape from Lodz. I think it was so cold on the way that babies’ nappies did get frozen to their bodies! I think this casualty of the little guy was the only casualty the family had to suffer during the whole war!

So the family had to settle somewhere in Germany as very poor refugees. Grandfather did not survive this life of a refugee for very long. He died in Leipzig in March 1947 being aged 77. Everybody thought he did reach a very good old age. Here I wrote about his gravesite and about our visit to Leipzig:

https://auntyuta.com/2012/11/23/a-cemetery-in-leipzig/

https://auntyuta.com/2019/10/16/a-cemetery-in-leipzig-3/

https://auntyuta.com/2013/06/08/in-love-with-leipzig-2/