Things My Mom Wrote That Made Me Cry

By Stacie Clifford Kitts

I can hardly believe it’s already 2015. A new year, with new possibilities, some new tax laws, and yet another holiday season spent without Mom. Last year my daughter and I flew to Kansas City, and as people do at those times, began the chore of cleaning out Mom’s things. We cleaned closets, packed boxes, took things to goodwill, filled trash bins and marveled at some of the things she kept. And when we ran out of time, we packed up boxes with what remained and shipped them home.

Yesterday, as the new year started, I decided it was time….time to stop delaying and find out what those last boxes contained. And….fine, I admit it. I had this slight hope, okay fantasy, that maybe there was something really interesting and even noteworthy among what remained of Mom’s things…like, I don’t know, a key to a mysterious safety deposit box with instructions to open after her death.

I know. I’m an accountant, okay. And although I do get a thrill out of structuring a good tax plan…you see where I’m going here…discovering a deep dark family secret would certainly liven things up a bit!

But as luck would have it, what I found was much better. Not a deep dark family secret…but a secret non the less. Mom wanted to be a writer. I found pages of notes, beginnings of chapters, and short essays about her uncles and her grandparents…But as interesting and wonderful as this find is, I am sad that she never had time to finish what she had started. I read the things I found and cried when there was no more.

Vic & Velda Van Hook (Mother and Pa)
By Patricia Kennedy

My grandmother was 36 when I was born. She didn’t want to be called Grandma, so she insisted that I call her Mother. And of course there was Pa, and everyone called him Pa, so they were Mother and Pa to me. I didn’t realize this growing up, but Mother was a very pretty woman who loved pretty things.

Mother was a talker. She would start on something and keep going and going and going. Pa would sit there swinging one crossed leg, reading his newspaper, and flipping cigarette ashes into his cuffs until suddenly he would say, “Be quiet Velda” and then she would.

Mother was stubborn and liked to get her way. She wanted to name me Sally. Although, I was named Patricia, that didn’t keep Mother from calling me Sally sometimes. I think she did that mainly to irritate my mom.

Mother taught me songs. “The Doors Swing in – The Doors Swing Out”, “Please Mr. Conductor Don’t Throw me off the Train”, and many more. I could have “stumped the band” on the Johnny Carson Show.

Pa was so quiet that you didn’t realize he was in the room. He left every morning for work and came home every night for dinner.

He loved fried foods, bacon, chicken, pork chops, and even the pork fat normally used when cooking beans, which he would cover with mustard and eat.

Mother always had coffee cans of bacon grease that she saved for the whole family and when Pa died, the doctors said he had the heart of a 20 year old. Cholesterol? Go figure.

Pa loved wrestling. I don’t remember why, but he would occasionally take me to wrestling matches. I still remember Gorgeous George with a head of blonde curls. He would throw gold bobby pins into the audience. Pa would watch the matches and chew on his thumb he got so excited.

Uncle Kenneth
By Patricia Kennedy

My uncle Kenneth named me, Patricia. He taught me, among other things, how to skin a frog, bait a hook, tie a string to a beetles back leg and baste an egg. When I was a little girl growing up in Springfield, sometimes he’d come home with a burlap sack full of watercress, poke, doc greens and perhaps sweet corn acquired from the unknowing generosity of a farmer.

He brought me two wild baby rabbits when he accidentally killed their mother mowing a right-of-way. He knew grandma Van Hook wouldn’t be happy. But he did it anyway because he knew it would make me happy.

He taught me to sing all the verses to “Froggy Went a Courting” and a song about a tattooed lady that I wasn’t to sing in front of my mother.

I learned cribbage by watching him and Victor. And when I was older, he became a fun opponent at poker, even if he did say I was the luckiest blankety blank person he knew.

Just before I got married, he taught me how to baste an egg and said, “Now you and Joe won’t starve”.

He could be gruff and sometime loud, but he was good hearted, kind, and loved.

Uncle Donald
By Patricia Kennedy

Uncle Donald was very artistic and funny. I thought he was the greatest artist ever. I remember some ballet dancers in harlequin costumes that he painted and I remember thinking they were beautiful. Once he saw me tracing out of a coloring book and he told me, tracing is fine, but you should try to draw free hand, and so I did.

Don and Jack would sometimes walk the three blocks to my elementary school and carry me home on their shoulders. I told everyone at school that they were my brothers.

Don would come over to my Grandma’s house and she and Don would put their heads together and come up with unbelievably beautiful things. The one I remember the most, is the Christmas tree they did together. They took the tree into the back yard and skillfully decorated it. Then Don stood on a ladder and sprayed snow over the tree covering the lights and the ornaments. When they brought the tree back into the house and the lights lit up, they twinkled through the layer of fake snow. It was really beautiful.

Don’s house always looked great. He could decorate on a dime and he could find antiques anywhere. He would make trips and find some farmer with old outbuildings and say, “I’ll give you $5 to look in that shed.” And when they would let him, which was most times, he would find something worth restoring. He and grandma worked on a chaise lounge that was lovely. He was able to make beautiful things out of what other people thought was junk because he could see what was beneath.

Love you mom.

Professional Coaching Expert Ken Potalivo pens One of the Most Relevant Business Development Books Around

By Stacie Clifford Kittsmindshare

Several years ago I wrote a post entitled An Accountants Search For The Bat Cave – A Story About Networking: and it went something like this:

As a young staff, I questioned how the firm partners were heading out into the world and bringing back stacks of new clients for me to work on.

I was mystified and oh so innocent…..It seemed like some sort of *magic*.

What else could it be, except maybe an underground society known as “networkers”, who ventured out into the world, performed some secret handshake, and produced clients from thin air?????

Amazing!

But, where was this secret society? Did they have a secret location?… like – The Bat Cave – a giant underground warehouse where they plucked potential clients off the shelf and checked them out at the front of the store?

Was that it?

I longed for someone to tell me…..I had to know the answer to this secret networking magic.

Luckily, the mystery was solved by my good friend and my business coach Ken Potalivo, who I credit with helping me grow from staff to the managing partner of my own firm Katherman Kitts.

Am I worried that I’m giving away the secret to my success? Nope!

We are all unique professionals with our own special super and yes *magical* powers just waiting to be offered to the world. Learning how to recognize and develop those super powers will help you “get the referrals you want by making your competition irrelevant.”

Ken Potalivo’s Book, Secrets of MindShare: Get the Referrals You Want by Making Your Competition Irrelevant offers a clearly defined and targeted path on how to create and maintain referral relationships, how to distinguish yourself so that you stand out from your competition, and explains how to identify those relationships that will provide the most benefit from your time investment. This book is a must for any professional who recognizes that survival in today’s competitive environment is in the hands of those who can attract clients and maintain relationships.

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Are Your Tax Records “Company Clean”?

By Stacie Clifford KittsMom

My mom had a philosophy about housekeeping. I think this stemmed from her preference to spend her free time on other activities like mastering a still life in watercolor, or watching a classic old movie. In any case, her philosophy usually resulted in our house being in one of two stages. She lightheartedly referred to these as “lived-in clean”, or “company clean”. I can still recall the first time I noticed mom running around the house painting over dirty little finger prints, or using Old English scratch remover (love that stuff by the way) on the furniture. This was when she explained that “company clean” meant paying attention to the details while “lived-in clean”, maybe not so much.

We sometimes see Taxpayers that have this same philosophy. They never quite seem to pay attention to the detail, that is, until they have company knocking at the door. Sometimes that company is a taxing agency. But, more often than not, everyday life events have resulted in the need for “company clean” records. Those include:

1) Accurate tax planning
2) Retirement planning
3) Applying for a home or business loan
4) Divorce or marriage considerations
5) Estate and succession planning

Taxpayers are often shocked at how costly it is to have someone “clean-up” after the fact. But consider the cost of hiring someone to clean or repair your house after a long period of neglect. Imagine the damage that can occur to your property when not taken care of properly. If you cannot, might I suggest an episode of Horders as an arguably extreme example of the damage caused by a lack of proper housekeeping.

“Company clean” records do not need to steal from your free time thought. Here are a few tips.

1) Do not wait until the end of the year to accumulate your records or do your accounting. You should be accumulating this information and doing an accounting (if necessary) at lease monthly.
2) Know what records you should be keeping. Ask your accountant or check out the IRS Website
3) Hire a qualified bookkeeper. This is someone who has a basic knowledge of accounting rules, not just someone who knows how to use Quickbooks.
4) Have your CPA look at your accounting records before the end of the year to make accounting suggestions and to help with tax forecasting.
5) Budget for the costs of hiring qualified tax and accounting professionals. Usually, the quality of your tax and accounting information is a reflection of what you pay for them.

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