Mom’s days of being the tax lady are finally over

Helena Rodriguez

Just when I had come to think the only things definite in life are death, taxes, long lines at Wal-Mart, Dick Clark, American Idol, the Dallas Cowboys making the Super Bowl at least once a decade and Mom being firmly planted on the couch doing taxes for other people up until Midnight on April 15, I’ve suddenly realized some things in life do come to an end.
As I’m sure you’ve heard, there will be no Super Bowl this year.
Yeah right!
OK, seriously now, I’ve learned they decided to do away with “American Idol.” Yeah right! They’re determined to run this show down to the ground until everyone in America gets their 15 minutes of fame. The same for the “Survivor” show, too.
Actually, it’s more serious than this, though.
This is the first year, to my recollection, that Mom did not spend all of tax day, which happens to also be her birthday, doing tax returns for other people. I’m sure many of you know what I’m talking about because you’re still cursing the IRS after racing against the clock last night.
It’s ironic that Mom’s birthday falls on tax day. She’s spent just about every birthday in her adult life burning the midnight oil, sweating over other people’s taxes. Sometimes there would literally be a line of people at Mom’s front door, desperately waving those W-2s in hand, hoping for Mom to do a last-minute miracle for them, or at least file an extension to buy them more time. It was not unusual for Mom to be racing to the post office just before midnight to get someone’s tax return in the mail, sometimes her own.
Mom’s weakening eye sight, caused by diabetes, has forced her to turn people away this year. She did do my income taxes this year, but I thought to myself that it may very well have been the last time. She also did a few income taxes for some close friends and got her own income tax return in the mail yesterday. But alas, her all night tax-marathon days have come to an end. I’m sure Mom is breathing easier this year, either that, or she has had more time on her hands to curse the IRS more than once, like so many others.
I’m glad Mom got to get a break on her birthday for once. If that’s what you want to call it. I’m not sure which is more exhausting, sitting on the couch all day getting a bunch of numbers to add up, or chasing little Marissa around the house. Marissa is about to enter her terrible 2s, but that’s another column.
For years, we got used to postponing Mom’s birthday celebrations until the day after. Actually, that turned out to be a good idea. Sometimes it was kind of hard to crack a smile and say, “Happy Birthday, Mom!” when Mom would say, “You owe Uncle Sam five hundred bucks!”
We used to try to have the celebrations on her actual birthday, but that didn’t work. Mom would make an appearance and then make some excuse and next thing we knew, she was back on the couch working on income taxes. Often times we’d have to schedule her birthday celebrations the weekend before or after tax day so we could make it an all day affair, like we are so good at doing in my family. In fact, even though Mom didn’t do taxes this year, Dad still opted to postpone the festivities until this weekend. He wants the whole shebang. The cookout. The cake. And his traditional singing of Las Mañanitas. Usually Mom accompanies him, but when it’s her own birthday, we give her the night off, although she usually ends up joining in anyway.
Mom started doing income tax returns for people decades ago when she worked for Community Services. Even after she left that job, people just kept bringing her their income taxes, and at all hours of the night. I used to joke to her that she needed to place an “Open” and “Closed” sign on the front door. She never did.
Out of all the years Mom has done my income taxes, there was only one year I actually had to pay. I immediately demanded a recount. No, seriously, it turned out to be my fault when I changed jobs, moved to a different state and didn’t fill out my Whatever Number It Is form correctly. That’s another thing. All these years, I’ve never had to mess with numbers. I’ve always just turned it over to Mom. But since Mom’s tax days appear to be over, I’ll have to find me another tax lady. One who I may actually have to pay. Bummer. Either that, or I can marry an accountant.
Helena Rodriguez is a columnist for Freedom Newspapers of New Mexico. She can be reached at
helena_rodriguez@link.freedom.com