I haven’t published anything in 3 years but I have drafted a few blogs which I may finish and post. But first …. this update.
Three years ago I got a telephone call from a lawyer I know. They needed a bookkeeper right away as their bookkeeper had breast cancer. Would I step in and help? I had to.
My husband, John, enjoyed working with Joanne. He used to tease me she was the best bookkeeper he knew but would laugh and say he married me anyway. He talked to Joanne regularly because she had her hands full dealing with this lawyer. This lawyer is headstrong and likes to be in charge. This lawyer has quite the temper and snaps at his staff. When he wants something he wants it immediately. But he was a close friend of John’s and spent a great deal of time with him while John was dying. He stopped here regularly on his way home to talk to John and to read to him once John was unconscious.
The six months were expanded as the treatment progressed and at the two year mark Joanne decided not to return. Her treatment was successful but she decided it was time to leave. The job had evolved from bookkeeping to managing the office. Major renovations were done in the building and I oversaw them. Changes were occurring with the lawyers. The older lawyer moved to a separate floor to enable his son to spread his wings to take over. So much changed since she left.
Those first two years were very stressful for me but I was very busy and buried myself in the job instead of my grief.
Just over a year ago I started to train a girl from our office to take over. She is a natural and was unhappy in her role in the real estate department. But as soon as we started the world fell apart.
I spent the last week at a resort in Cancun. It was a beautiful place, perfect for soul searching. I went as the “plus one” with my friend Sandi. It was sort of a family reunion for her extended family, her stepdaughter was there along with her family and there were others but I’m really not sure how the entire group of 38 were related. I was a bit of a fish out of water there since the only person I knew beforehand was Sandi but she was almost the same way. She knew a few people but obviously was on the outside of most of the rest of the family relationship and was looking in.
The resort was called Dreams Playa Mujeres Golf and Spa Resort in Cancun. The resort itself was beautiful, the staff was out of this world and the view was remarkable. Cool ocean breezes, sunny weather and unlimited rum drinks made this a perfect holiday however I don’t relax well. I’m not one that just sits around and bakes in the sun. I burn quickly and found myself on edge the first couple of days. Finally (perhaps it was the rum drinks) I found that I was able to sit back and watch life pass me by.
Every morning Sandi and I would go to the beach and have a cabana made up for us. This was a queen sized bed that was covered by a huge canopy and two reclining chairs and a small table. I felt like royalty. I spent the majority of the time in the shade on the bed and could draw the curtains should the sun shift so I remained without a sunburn. The breezes off the gulf were quite brisk and there were times I had to wrap a towel around my shoulders to get warm. But all in all it was a piece of heaven.
I read, watched some Netflix and finally relaxed. Sandi spent most of her time in the sun listening to music. I decided to use that time to focus on how I was going to move forward. I tried to meditate but I found it difficult as my program faded in and out as the wifi wasn’t the greatest. But I did manage to make some decisions.
I realized I need to give up the tax return business. I have already given up my bookkeeping and corporate returns but I’m not qualified to continue to work on the tax clients. My problem is that it is good money over a two month span and I need it right now. This year I had to help Amanda out and I’m having to support Adam as he gets started on his career. I can’t do it without an extra income. I had thought either Amanda or Adam would help me with “the family business” so that they could supplement their income in the future but that doesn’t seem to be happening. I figure I have ten years of life left and want to enjoy it. I don’t want to sell my house but I could if I needed the money. But for now, I have to work and supplement my investment income.
So … where does that leave me. One thing that bothers me regarding the tax business is it is being run out of my home. This means I need to keep the house clean at all times, which is not easy if I’m working by myself. I have to be the receptionist, interviewer, tax preparer and bookkeeper all at once. There is no time for myself. Last year I was totally stressed out as the person I hired didn’t show up most of the time and I got very little help at home. So today I met with the guy that has been helping me and told him I’m getting out. We brainstormed where he could open an office and he is going to try and get it set up immediately. Hopefully this will work out.
There has definitely been a change in me since the concert. I’m thinking more of the future instead of the past and of what I have lost. I have been deciding what I want to do in the future. I am glad I didn’t buy a condo in Florida because I’m second guessing myself on that now. I have decided I don’t want to work on corporate clients anymore and this will be the last year I do them. I think I will only do personal income tax returns for another year because I’m already committed to the clients but I don’t want to have people coming in and out of my home all the time anymore.
So what do I know I want? Here is a list (and check back and see if I actually follow through).
- Spend more quality time with my children and friends.
- Empty my bedroom of John’s clothes and my old clothes. I still have clothes that I wore when I was pregnant with Adam!
- Renovate my ensuite. I want a new shower, bathtub, vanity and floor.
- Finish cleaning and renovating the main floor
- Turn Emily’s old room into a guest room
- Create a craft room and set up an area for scrap booking, sewing and other crafts
- Set up a “vacation” schedule and go to new places instead of just Largo, Florida
- Get healthy
- Laugh more
- Be more sociable
It was decided that we would combine our offices and move in together in October 1976. I went into this merger apprehensive. I had a good relationship with my boss Tim, but didn’t feel comfortable with George and John. We moved into an older building and had the upper two floors above a law office (my uncle was a lawyer at the firm). There were three offices, two large (one with a private bathroom) and one smaller office. The reception area was set apart from offices and was quite private also. George got the small office, Tim got the bigger office with the view and John got the office with the private closet and bathroom.
Right from the beginning I knew that John would be the leader in the group. Every Monday morning John would meet with me to go over the weekly plan. He rarely smiled at me and was very abrupt when dealing with me. It was hard for me to get a read on him. When nervous I talk so I must have talked his ear off. His partners were content to let John run things while they did their work. Tim was the social partner. He knew every lawyer, every banker and worked the crowds. Most of his time was spent doing promotional work, he would land the client and George or John would service them. George was a workhorse when it came to the client files. He worked fast and could produce several files a week but tended to make sloppy errors. His goal was to be home with his beautiful wife and he didn’t want to be at work a moment longer than necessary.
Four over 4 years we worked together, often more than the standard 40 hours a week. During tax season we would work 70 or so hours a week just to get the work out. None of us really minded though since we felt that we were a team. As we got busier we hired additional staff. Over the years together I became the office manager with John as the managing partner. We expanded and opened an office in Toronto. While staff came and went the four of us were as close as the four musketeers!
I remember everything about the day I met John. I was 20 years old and was hired to be the secretary for an accountant in a nearby town. I had been working in Toronto for just over a year in a large office but I was tired of the commute. In March 1976 I decided I wanted a change in my life and moved out of a large bullpen into a two person office. I settled into the office and one morning my boss Tim gave me a set of financial statements to type up. He told me to make sure I stay within one inch margins because the guy I was typing them for was VERY picky. I very carefully typed up these statements (remember .. these were the days where there were no computers, I had an IBM selectric typewriter).
On Friday these two men return with my boss (Tim) after lunch. I was surprised at the difference between the new men, one was tall, thin, calm and blonde and the other was shorter with a bushy beard and almost a frantic way about him. The tall man sat down across from me and asked for the statements. Tim off handedly said “This is John and George” and I immediately thought of the Beatles.
I passed the statements to John and without even a look at me he took the ruler from my desk and started to measure the margins. Now, I think I’ve mentioned before that I’m an introvert but I’m not a wall flower. I’m a strong person and I don’t like being pushed around or insulted. I immediately got my back up when John started to measure the margins of the statements I typed.
He leaned back, looked at me and said, “They are fine”.
I said, “Fine? Fine? They are perfect.” I gave him a look that surprised him. He handed me a package of paper and asked me to photocopy several copies of the statements and bind them. It was only then that I saw the paper was framed like a picture frame and the statements had to sit inside the frame. He apologized for his tone to me and I could see the other two men were shocked by this change in John. John asked me what I thought of the letterhead and I told him it was old fashioned and dated and not something a progressive firm would use. He never ordered that paper again.
The three men talked in Tim’s office while I copied and bound the statements. I could hear them laughing and for some reason I could feel the tension in my entire body. I went in and handed John the statements and could feel his eyes on me. When John and George left Tim turned to me and told me I better get used to them because he had just agreed to go into partnership with them and I would be joining them. We were to become the Four Musketeers.