By Anna Elena Berlin
The definition of godsend is:
1. a very helpful or valuable event, person, or thing.
I’m pretty sure the word originated with a person that experienced a miraculous blessing in their life. Is it possible to express enough gratitude to somebody who enables a miraculous blessing in your life? You decide as you read this story.
I thank my friend Zofia for introducing me to her housekeeper, Raquel Chavez, when I told her that I needed help cleaning the house. Raquel was a wonder, she not only cleaned the house, she made it perfect the way I wanted it to be perfect. She was also willing to run errands, do shopping, and help me in any way she could.
When my life in Mexico fell apart she helped me pack up my house so I could seek healing and start anew. When I came back to Lakeside with my husband, she was our housekeeper. But she didn’t just clean the house, she cut fresh fruit for my morning yogurt. It sounds like a small thing but it was really special to me. When the summer was over, she stored a lot of my things at her house… for two years.
This may seem mundane to you, but that’s because I haven’t gotten to the good part yet, which started in Athens Greece. That’s where a simple 45-minute, ¾ inch incision surgery on my lower back turned into 3.5 hours, seven inch incision surgery. It ended my intense back pain, as much of a relief to my husband as me, but I needed rehabilitation.
My neurosurgeon told me that in three months I needed to swim, swim, swim to recover from my surgery. A month-and-a-half later we both caught Covid-19 and were very sick for three weeks. Just as I was getting well enough to go swimming, the country of Greece closed all the swimming pools due to the pandemic. Even after moving to Colorado I was not able to swim much because they kept closing the pools due to Covid. Desperate for alternatives, I realized I could swim safely everyday by renting a place with a private pool in Mexico.
I could be confident driving to Lakeside if I traveled with someone else, and my husband was stuck in Greece. When you’re almost seventy staying awake at the wheel can be challenging, especially if you’re driving eleven hours a day. The only person that might be available and willing, that I wanted to have in the car for such a long trip, was Raquel.
She is a kind and generous person that was married to an American, and took care of another American that was disabled for many years. She is a very good woman with a sweet disposition, so I asked her if she could help me and that I would gladly pay her. My plan was to fly her from Guadalajara to Los Angeles, where I was visiting my sister, then we would drive to Lakeside.
Just when you think life can’t get much weirder, it does. She told me that she was already in California, so I bought her an air ticket from San Jose to Los Angeles and we were off. What a relief to know that my favorite Mexican companion was going to be with me on this long journey through Mexico.
So what is the Godsend part you are wondering? Because my legs were so weak, Raquel became my legs and helped me every time walking was involved. She would go into stores and restaurants, help me check into hotels, and carry my bag. Most importantly, at the border she helped me get the papers required to temporarily import my car into Mexico.
Raquel is petite but she is energetic, strong, and spry. Whatever I needed she would help me with, and when I didn’t ask—she would offer assistance. We were truly blessed, everything on the journey went well and we both enjoyed our 3 ½ days together.
I settled into my West Ajijic studio apartment, with a big swimming pool only steps away, and started rehabilitating. In a few days Raquel came to help me unpack, do my laundry, and made fresh fruit for my yogurt addiction. She also brought me groceries, and my things that she had kept for two years.
This lovely woman is the epitome of true friendship. The only thing that stood between me and recovering from major back surgery was someone to be with me on the long drive through the Sonoran Desert. How do you express gratitude to someone who gives of themselves in such a wholehearted way? I suppose the only real way is to continue to cherish our friendship for as long as I am able to.
I no longer want her to housekeep for me because she’s almost 65, but I will continue to ask her to help me in other ways. And, I will continue to pay her more than she asks, because she has a large family and she is worth more than money can pay for.
When does someone that works for you become more valuable as a friend? I believe it is when they enable miracles in your life. Thank you Raquel with all my heart, you are the reason I will regain my walking abilities and my strength… you are a true Godsend in my life.
For more information about Lake Chapala visit: www.chapala.com