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The Midlife Sage: Dealing With Death, Taxes, And Independence

Are your taxes done?

Does your accountant begin to have seizures when you come to your appointment? Are you promising that this year you will do a better job of keeping accurate records so you don’t need to frantically search for documents and files that are buried somewhere in your stacks of clutter? By midlife, most of us have survived a few decades of tax seasons, and we face them with the same resignation that we accept a death in the family: it’s going to happen, so deal with it.

At our home, Spring 2013 brought the daunting, predictable realities of death and taxes that were offset by the joyful introduction of a spunky baby girl who has her father’s nose, my chin, and her own delightful energy. This week we attended a family funeral, I compiled another bulging box of documents for my beleaguered tax accountant, and I unpacked our family’s 108-year-old Christening gown for my new granddaughter to wear.

Sometimes death has no sting.

The family funeral became a memorial celebration of life for my husband’s father. He died at age 83 after years of being lost with Alzheimer’s, and his final journey was a quiet blessing. At the service, wonderful stories were shared about past activities when he still remembered the names of his children and grandchildren.

Taxes are taxing.

My first full-time job started forty years ago, and I’ve paid income and property taxes ever since. I don’t mind paying assessments that fund schools and roads, and I willingly share my resources for programs that assist the elderly, help handicapped people, provide for those with special needs, and support the arts. But I am irritated that some government leaders have less common sense than a child with a piggy bank. A child knows that when the money is gone, the spending must stop.

Christening and Customs.

On a more joyful note, my granddaughter will be Christened in a hand-stitched dress made by my great-grandmother and worn by my grandmother in 1906, my mother in 1927, me in 1952, and my daughter in 1978. The baby’s ancestors were strong pioneers and hard-working farmers who dreamed of becoming writers, musicians, and travelers. When my son and daughter-in-law present their child to proclaim her name in the presence of God and assembled witnesses, the dress will cloak her with a legacy of tough, talented, spirited women.

Next Spring will bring another opportunity to prepare for the certainty of taxes. And a splendid toddler will walk barefoot in new grass, pick fresh blossoms, sing silly songs, and wonder what’s beyond the fence. We’ll give her a piggy bank and some seed packages to plant in a garden and encourage her to become self-reliant and independent as a tribute to her hardy ancestors.

Many years from now, I’ll share some fine wine with my granddaughters, and we’ll tell amazing stories about our grand adventures. Then I’ll ask them to sing one more song before it’s time for me to go.

Read more posts by Elaine Ambrose, award-winning author. Elaine is a blogger for JenningsWire.