I met her several years ago because her son was needing help with his English schoolwork. I was a tutor for the “No Child Left Behind” program and arrived at their home one day after school to spend some time meeting the family and assessing exactly what was needed. Our friendship went from being centered on her son to food rather quickly. She was always cooking something in large quantities and urging me to take some. She packaged hot meals and sold them to workers at her husband’s workplace.
She and her husband were Hispanic and back in Mexico she had gotten a degree in Accounting, I think, but that didn’t count for much here in the States. She did whatever she could find to do in between her children’s school schedules. Her husband worked in construction but this was in 2008 and Florida’s economy was taking a hit. They were barely making their house payments, but they had their own place. It was clean and neat.
Our friendship deepened later on. Hispanic women (and men) have a thing for fragrance and Zenaida signed up with me to sell cosmetics and perfume. We marketed together, got dressed up and went to sales meetings. Later still, when my daughter needed an extra hand in her house-cleaning business, I suggested she try Zenaida and it was a good suggestion. The clients loved her integrity and work ethic. When my daughter moved on to vet school, Zenaida inherited her business.
Zenaida is still the friend who shows up at birthday parties and graduations with a full tray of home cooked tamales (my daughter’s favorite). She still wants to help with my cleaning and yard work and is the hardest one to take any pay for her work. She just wants to be a friend, and she is. And her name begins with Z (for which I am thankful).
Zenaida is a common name for women in several cultures and is also the name given to the Zenaida dove which is our mourning dove.