Tuesday, April 17, 2012
It's that time of year again. Tax time! A season that strikes fear and irritation into the hearts of many. I don't mind tax season so much for myself; I've got a fairly basic set-up, with no deductions and nothing fancy to report. I also do my Father's taxes however, and that's what has gotten me thinking about him today. By 'do' I mean organize, not prepare. I'm not crazy! I organize everything as it comes in the mail, spend time noting medical charges and anything else that might be deductible, and look through his financial records and statements to make sure I have every possible scrap of paper that the accountant might need. Then I take my enormous folder of statements and pension reports, and medical bills, and I take it in to our long-suffering accountant, who then puts everything together and makes up Dad's return. It just makes me think about Dad and all the ways I'm now totally in charge of someone else's life. It's a little odd to be signing your name to someone else's tax return. It's also a little odd to sign your name to someone else's financial documents, or to be the named Social Security Payee, responsible for money sent from the government that they're going to want to know has been spent properly! It really makes you think about being responsible, and how sad it is that you have to do it at all. It reminds me of something that happened while I was still living with Dad-one of our many adventures. Dad was still somewhat lucid and knew that an election was coming up. He wanted to go vote, so I took him up to the elementary school where he was registered(this was before everyone was sending in their ballots), and helped sign him in. As we waited for an open booth, I pondered a few things: whether it was even legal for me to send a man to vote who had dementia; how long the prison sentence was for voter fraud; and also, did he even know who to vote for? I nudged him and asked, soto voce, if he had an idea of which way to vote. He showed me one of his little notebooks, in which he had jotted down some names and issues. I figured that was good enough but suggested he try to keep someone else, like a voting official, from seeing it. Off he went to vote, taking a little extra time, but doing just fine. He only needed my help to figure out in which box to drop the ballot. I realize we're just talking about voting here, but it made me happy to be able to do this for him, probably for the last time. For all the government's intents and purposes, Dad still exists as a tax-paying, social-security-drawing, voting member of society. It doesn't really realize that someone else is actually doing all of that on Dad's behalf. I guess it doesn't really matter to them as long as it happens. But it's just one more thing that makes our lives different from other people's, and I can't help but think about it.