Love and Taxes


“A.” worked at a desk on the ground floor with a stack of
paper 1040’s to his right.  He wore a
business suit and tie.  I took him to be
around 80.

I had gotten his name from my mother, as in years past, he
and my stepfather worked side by side offering free tax preparation assistance
at the public library.

I had been hiding from my tax returns this year.  Fortunately, during the days when I made
money, I had the good sense not to spend all of it on vacations and designer
handbags and put some away.  

Yet, more recent times called for a different kind of sensibility.
I put those handbags up on eBay. I sold off some of the money that Wall Street
had held for me for the past decade.  And
while I “sold high” to get the most bang for my buck, selling high meant I owed
“the man” in on the action.

I didn’t want to deal with the I.O.U. to Uncle Sam, thus I
had hidden from him completely, and I didn’t want to pay my accountant his arm
and leg fee as one of the “fortunate ones” to receive his Ivy League advice.

So, there I sat, across from A., at the library, with my W2’s,
1099’s, expense receipts and the large pile of Barter Exchange forms.

There were the technology stocks that held up…

…oil stocks, home improvement stores, soft drinks…

…the blue chip stocks for fast food chains where I would
never eat, but whose dividends fed my children this year.

He wrote quickly on the Schedule D, while punching an adding
machine that sat on top of the desk.

“You’re fine,” he said, as he placed a piece of paper in
front of me and pointed to a number. 
“Here’s what your refund will be.”

I eyed the number and suddenly felt light.  The money I would get back was enough to
replace half of what I had cashed in. 

In theory.

“Thank you,” I offer, getting up from the desk. 

“I miss your father.”

“I miss him too,” I respond, feeling the cry well up in my

“He was a good man. 
He helped a lot of people do their taxes. We fought though.  Politics.  Always politics. He was such a liberal.”  

“I know,” I say. I smile and nod my head. 

“You’re lovely.  Like
your stepdad.  Good luck to you.”  

I walk out of the library, tears on my cheeks, clutching my
tax return under my arm, thinking about how I don’t miss those vacations or
stocks or designer handbags half as much as I miss my stepdad, thinking about
how fast life really goes, and thinking about when it’s my turn to die, I’m
hoping to have things on my mind other than taxes and the trifles that take up
too much space in my mind, and to end this life used up, spent, at peace, and totally



This is my first time linking up with Yeah Write. Click on the badge to read some great posts, then come back on Thursday to vote for your favorites.




Love and Taxes — 98 Comments

  1. Beautiful post Ilene! So emotional and so lovely too. Taxes and finances and the economy are such a bore to me. A lot of it goes over my head and no matter how much time I spend trying to make sense of it all, I still can’t really tell you what the stock exchange does exactly. But I absolutely LOVED how you swung this back to an emotional and heartfelt tribute to your dad. You point out something I try desperately to remember when I’m caught up in stress and that is the idea that there’s more value in the people and moments that carry weight in our hearts than in the things that fill our closets and shelves at home. Brava my friend. 🙂

  2. Welcome to yeah write! This is such a great post. I love how the tax guy gave you more than just a number, but a chance to reflect, as well.

  3. What is it they say? The only things certain in life are death and taxes and you wove both into a very lovely post! Welcome to Yeah Write — hop to see more of you there!

  4. I’ve been wanting to link up to Yeah Write. I think this post just gave me the push. Beautiful sentiments about your stepdad. It’s funny that I never thought of taxes and love being in the same sentence and how this post changed my mind.

  5. I haven’t joined in on Yeah Write for while. I need to check that our again. It was a great community back last year!
    I loved your story. I now what you mean. Someone said to me other day, “You just never know how long we’ll be here.” Referring of course to our days that are numbered only by the knowledge of God. What kind of legacy am I leaving? One of harried mom, overwhelemd blogger, and barley getting through the day? God, I hope not. Like your taxes, I hope I am leaving something bigger than that. And if I’m not so far, that God would slap me awake!

  6. I am so happy to see you here!!! Welcome! I love the last lines and your focus on all the things that really matter. So easy to forget. I regularly get caught up in the distractions and need people like you to reel me back in with your words. Beautiful post!

  7. What’s so interesting here is that you found a connection to your stepdad through the taxes, something that was just what he did, but was part of who he was. It connects him back to you, and even though it’s numbers and red and black ink, it’s a way to get him in the room again with you.
    And any time we can do that, it’s definitely worth it.
    Beautifully written.

  8. This is just lovely. Your poignant connection to an old family friend not only highlights your love for your stepfather, but also illustrates how deeply bonds can run, and how nothing, even politics, can divide true friends.

  9. I love that “father” and “stepdad” are interchangeable in this piece. My father was just visiting me, and while he is technically my stepdad, in my heart is is my father. People who insist on clarifying that make me nuts. And yay for tax refunds!

  10. I loved doing Yeah Write this week. It pushed me just a little bit harder, you know? Your words are beautiful and I hope you try it! Thank you for your kind thoughts on my stepdad. I think he is the only subject in my universe who could put love and taxes together in one place.

  11. It’s so true, Adrienne, right? Because right now, my legacy kind of feels like yours – overwhelmed mom and blogger, etc. – but I love those moments of clarity – like the one I had earlier in the week – where I have to ask myself what more I could be doing to serve this world and leave a good mark here. Those moments are gifts, right? xo

  12. Thank you, Eli, and what a great insight. This situation put me in the same room with him – not only through the taxes but also working with this man who loved my stepfather so dearly. There’s something about sharing in the memory of a loved one with someone else who understands their legacy that makes their presence in the room that much stronger. You’re right, any time we can get them in the room, it’s definitely worth it.

  13. Welcome to Yeah Write!! We have an amazing group of people here and I hope you love the experience as much as the rest of us do!
    I loved the honesty in your post. I felt like I was talking to a friend as opposed to reading a stranger’s words, and that is a sign of good writing!
    Hope to see you next week!

  14. I meant to write about this days ago, but it’s just been sitting in my heart while I run around like a busy chicken.
    I remember the post you wrote about your dad when you spent some time with him before he died… and you looked at him in the car… That piece has stayed with me, too.
    How amazing that you were able to connect with someone who knew him and loved him. That’s a blessing! X

  15. I was SO LUCKY to have that talk with him in the car that day before he died. So lucky. And as stated above in the comments, lucky again to be in the same room with him – while connecting through this friend of his who helped me last week. We really have to take advantages of those moments, right? xo

  16. Okay, I just read it again after seeing it on The Dose of Reality and it got me again. Though I didn’t know your stepdad, I do know that you ARE lovely! Love this post and your sweet, sweet words.

  17. I didn’t see this in March – as I was not yet lucky enough to discover you – but I’m glad it’s making a second round. Love those Dose Girls! I got very teary-eyed, and it’s not my allergies.

  18. Ahhhhhh yes. THIS one! I loved this one just as much the second time around. You are such a gifted writer sweet friend. Your words always deeply touch me. I love that this one got honored… in honor of your precious step dad.

  19. I love reading the dose of reality and now I know why they linked up with you. This was so touching. The perfect thing for me to read for the way I was feeling this morning. Thank you.

  20. How did I miss this gem, Ilene? This is so beautiful. I love how gently you tell the story, and with such warmth!
    At the end of the day, it’s never about the stuff. It’s about those we love. Amen to that!

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