Before he died in March, Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Alex Tizon filed one final story to The Atlantic.
It was his first-hand account of the life of a woman who lived with his family for more than five decades.
Her name was Eudocia Tomas Pulido – “Lola” – and she was their slave.
The long-form piece describes how, from 18 years old until her death 56 years later, Lola was forced to serve Tizon’s family, first in the Philippines and then the United States, after she was gifted to his mother by his grandfather.
“No other word but slave encompassed the life she lived,” he writes.
“Her days began before everyone else woke and ended after we went to bed… My parents never paid her, and they scolded her constantly. She wasn’t kept in leg irons, but she might as well have been.”
It wasn’t until he was 11 that Tizon began to understand Lola’s status within his family, witnessing her daily abuse at the hands of his parents and later his stepfather:
“So many nights, on my way to the bathroom, I’d spot her sleeping in a corner, slumped against a mound of laundry, her fingers clutching a garment she was in the middle of folding.”
As he grew older he says it took a kind of “mental surgery” to stop him hating his own mother for her despicable treatment of the woman she relied on in every sense and who, in many ways, was a second parent to him and his siblings.