Mike Jahn

I’m a magnet for crazy people. If I walked into a party and Courtney Love was there she’d be over in a flash. This is absolutely assured; it could be no other way.

This curse follows me everywhere. When my late mother was at the point where she needed home health aides around the clock, this Jamaican woman was recommended to me and I hired her. She was 40 or so and hot, something I didn’t quite know what to make of considering she was a Black Muslim. She was a certified health aide and wonderful. I’ll call her Olivia.

But she brought along her new roommate, who also was a home health aide. She was an Irish woman well into her 70s. I’ll call her Mary Kate. I got two for the price of one, except I had to feed both. They ate a LOT of takeout Chinese.

My mother’s house is in a patch of gardens and woods separated by a large brook from protected wetlands. It’s like having a cabin in the woods. Olivia, it turns out, is a city girl. One of her jobs was washing the sheets and bedclothes. She strung clothesline all over the inside of the porch because she was afraid there were bear in the woods and alligators in the brook. For her part, Mary Kate thought that Olivia was a voodoo practitioner who was trying to kill her. She put crucifixes all over the place to ward off the evil. Turns out that Mary Kate’s late husband WAS a Jamaican voodoo practitioner who gave her a charm that told her what to do. I guess it told her to flee, because she was soon on the lam.

One evening she went for a walk in the rain and didn’t come back before time came to lock up the fort. I assumed that she got the night train to get away from the voodoo. Or maybe the bear and the alligators made her into a late dinner. When morning came and I opened the curtains, I saw found her sitting in a chair in the back yard, her hands folded primly in her lap. She was afraid to come into the house. I guess this was partly out of fear of Olivia (Mary Kate was afraid of neither bear nor alligator, but a hot Jamaican Black Muslim voodoo practitioner scared the bejesus out of her). It could also be that as an elderly Irish woman she would never be so presumptuous as to ask a favor, even if refusing to do so meant sitting in a plastic chair in the back yard all night. Unable to see if the charm that swung from the silver chain was telling her where to go, I gave her $100 and put her on a train.

By the way, at no time did anyone mention that voodoo is associated with Haiti and New Orleans, not Jamaica. Jamaica is associated with weed. I could have used some.  

Anyway, fear of wildlife aside, Olivia was an even better caretaker without Mary Kate, who before leaving hung a rosary on the side of my mother’s bed.

I have a suspicion that one reason my mother, a confirmed agnostic, died was to get away from the two of them.

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