and the
Citizens Economic Research Foundation


Barbara's Column
June 2002 #2

'Dear Dad:
You were right about the hazards of living in Mass.'

by Barbara Anderson

The Salem Evening News
Friday, June 14, 2002

Happy Father's Day!

What were you expecting, an analysis of the Senate budget? That will take a while.

The budget goes to conference committee with the House which has its own version. When the conference is over in a few weeks, concerned citizens need to know what's going on, because overrides of Governor Swift's expected vetoes could cost them and their families a lot of money in higher taxes and bigger, badly-managed state government.

So rest assured I'll be here with my opinion.

In the meantime, I want to talk about the fathers and mothers who are no longer with us. This is my first year with both of mine gone.

I had a kind of after-life vision while recovering from a head injury this spring. (This is not going to answer any spiritual questions; for all I know, after we die we go to heaven, are reincarnated to get it right the next time, or blend into the great oneness to drift peacefully through eternity.) But in the heaven my Catholic family envisioned:

My father would finally get to travel and see the Grand Canyon, when taking a break from repairing odds and ends inside the pearly gates. (For Dad, heaven wouldn't be heavenly without some puttering to do).

All my parents' friends imagine them dancing to the long-ago Big Bands as angels line up to cut in and learn the rhumba and polka. Mother will have replaced her dancing shoes.

Here's the new thing I fancied lately, as I began to realize how often during the day I think of them in conjunction with the phrase, "You were right." I think there's a communications system within which a dove flies to heaven with a little note for a parent who gave us some advice we are now finally following; the notes are collected and treasured and then passed around during social hour when they talk about their kids.

In the past few weeks, my parents got these: "Hi Mother, you were right, my house was cluttered with too much furniture. Of course, there's a good chance what I tripped over was that coffee table you insisted I take after you were gone ...."

Hold it. It's going to take some time to get over old habits.

Let's try again: "You were right, I do love having those little chests of drawers, and thanks for encouraging me to build a handicapped bathroom."

Or, "Hi, Mother. You were right, I should have put a hand-held hose on my shower arm so I can take a shower sitting down. Chip got one last week at the hardware store and installed it in his bath for me."

"Yes, Mother, I did need to lose weight; and you're right, this was not the best way."

I think it may be easier for daughters to communicate with fathers:

"Dad, you were right when you coaxed me to wear my hair short again. Everyone likes my new shaved-head look which is growing in soft and fuzzy."

Or, "Dad, I should have kept in shape so I had more energy when I was home for a Saturday night visit. I'd love to have a more memories of us stomping around the floor, but "The Beer Barrel Polka" always did me in!

"I wish I'd had enough money to take you to the Grand Canyon when you were still young and healthy. You were a fine provider for your little family, working so hard at the lumberyard and then running your mom-and-pop hardware store. And you gave to your church and charities, but after the government stole what it perceived to be its share of your labor, there was nothing left for you.

"There's one thing, you know, Dad. I took your advice about recognizing government's greed and have spent my life fighting it. You were so right and it's getting worse.

"Remember how mother spent her own money for the nursing home instead of going on Medicaid, because we chose not to hide it? Here in Massachusetts, some politicians want to charge people like her a tax on their self-payment."

Oh look, the dove is bringing back a little note for me from mother: "I told you to take the money out of my account years ago so I could go immediately onto Medicaid for the nursing home."

Followed by a note from my father: "Now, Mary Ann, you know that would have been cheating. I'm proud of you both for not doing it."

To which I will respond: "Thanks dad, for that advice. You are right.

"But if that bill passes here, I'd advise Massachusetts seniors to contact an estate lawyer and refuse to be victimized by the greedy government."

Another note for me:

"When are you going to get out of that state? Love, Dad and Mother."

I suspect someday I will be responding, "You were right. I should have listened ..."

Barbara Anderson is executive director of Citizens for Limited Taxation. Her syndicated columns appear weekly in the Salem Evening News and the Lowell Sun; bi-weekly in the Tinytown Gazette; and occasionally in other newspapers.

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