Kathryn threw down her purse and buried her face in the big fluffy pillows on the couch. She couldn’t believe how horrible it felt to have the salesclerk say, “I’m sorry, we cannot process your credit card. It keeps coming up that it has been cancelled.” The salesclerk took the expensive bottle of perfume and put it back on the shelf. As Kathryn walked away, she heard the two women behind her whispering. She was sure they were talking about her.
“What is wrong, Miss Kathryn?”
Kathryn picked her head up and saw Theresa staring at her a look of concern in her eyes. “I’m a little upset right now. Don’t worry about me. Did the repair man fix the broken washer?”
“Miss Kathryn, he called and said he wants payment in advance this time. He said your husband took months to send the check for the last time he was here.”
Kathryn started to cry. “What are we going to do? My husband’s business investments have gone down the drain. We are going to lose everything! We have no money to pay our bills!”
Theresa sat down next to Kathryn. “I am so sorry for what you are going through. I know you are hurting but Miss Kathryn”…
Theresa paused wondering how her boss would react to her next comment.
“You have known about this for many months yet you still go shopping and buy things.”
“People expect gifts for the holidays,” Kathryn replied. “What am I supposed to do…buy them nothing?”
“Miss Kathryn…You worry so much about other people’s expectations of you. Why do you do that? I do not understand!”
“Oh Theresa, what would you know? You live in a poor section of town, your husband is disabled and you work as a maid. No-one expects anything of you!”
Realizing how harsh her words sounded, Kathryn said, “Theresa, please forgive me. I shouldn’t have said that!”
Theresa looked at her employer and smiled. “Miss Kathryn, I think in some ways I am better off than you. No..I have never experienced the feeling of having so much money and then losing it all. I have always been poor but I have counted my blessings for every little gift that has come my way. I have a husband I adore, two beautiful, healthy children and a roof over my head.I feel rich in so many ways.To answer your question…People expect nothing from me but my unconditional love.”
Theresa wrapped her arm around her employer’s shoulder.
“That is all that people should expect from you.”
Kathryn looked at Theresa sadly.
“You know I am going to have to let you go. I just didn’t want to do it before the holidays.”
“I realized that this day was coming and I have already started searching for another job. All I ask from you is a good reference.”
“Theresa, of course I will give you a good reference. But how will I survive without you? I don’t even know how to cook!”
Theresa started to laugh. “We have 3 weeks for me to teach you how to survive in the real world.”
Theresa helped Kathryn up off the couch and wiped the tears off her face.
“You are going to be just fine. You are smart and most importantly, you have a good heart. Hold your family close and you will get through this together. Give them lots of love. That is all they need from you this holiday season.”
Hand in hand, the two women walked into the kitchen. Theresa wrapped an apron around her employer’s waist. “First lesson will be… How to prepare dinner on a budget!”