It was a cold spring day, it felt like winter. Somehow it turned out it was going to be winter in our household in spite of the hope for renewal spring most time brought to the outside, the normal world… the world which was not ours!
The letter was addressed to both of us and since I understood the role of Uncle Sam in everybody’s life, I immediately opened it.
My heart was racing, the letters were dancing, my sight was blurred by the stream of tears springing from my eyes, and I had no control over them!
Briefly, the letter stated that since we didn’t pay our taxes nor did we contact the IRS to enter into a payment contract with them, as suggested before, they will freeze all our assets. What did this mean exactly? My business which was not incorporated, the bank accounts… our home… what was going to happen to our home? My job as a mother and wife had been to make a home, but to make a home one needs a house. What was going to happen to the house which we acquired in 1986 using my bonus from the financial company, this beautiful house in which our daughters were born, in which we laughed and cried and fought and made up? This house in which we lived as a family, for better and for worse, just as we promised when Randy married us!
I flew upstairs, on the third floor, in his zone, and opened the office’s door. I stared at Kevin’s back. I saw him seated at the computer, playing Solitaire, just like I saw his father play when I first met him, years before. The only difference was that now Kevin was high-tech and the cards were flipped on a screen, not a desk…
He stared at me startled and silently I handed him the letter from the IRS. He read it slowly, perhaps twice, or was he buying time?
Finances were his part of the “job” in our household. He, from the beginning made it clear that if I took care of the overall finances, is manhood would be hurt. Of course my sizable contributions to the household were expected, but not my overseeing the whole operation! He had an MBA in finances, he was a real American, not like me, fresh off the boat. I was giving my share and in addition paid for all food, on going expenses and the kids’ needs. I never checked to see that taxes were paid or the mortgage. When tax time came, I signed forms he handed me, never thinking we were not paying the taxes due. It felt good to have a husband with an MBA in finances!
“What does this mean? They will freeze our assets? What do we have to do?”
“Talk to them I guess… ” He said. He was calm… so calm, I wondered if he understood what was happening, or if he cared…
I grabbed the letter and written in bold letters, I found a phone number where those like us had to call and make arrangements. I called and we had one more day to avoid the disaster of frozen assets. I ran to the local IRS office in Jenkintown and paid a monthly installment…It had became clear we wouldn’t be able to keep up with the payments for long. I ran back home:
“How are we going to pay all the debt? Can they take the house? My business? Say something!”
He looked at me surprised and shrugged his shoulders.
“I don’t know, do whatever you want!”
He turned around and started walking upstairs, disappeared around the corner and I was left to figure out what to do.
As I sat awake in the middle of the night, all sort of images danced in my head. The times when I didn’t understand why all our friends could re- mortgage at lower rates, but somehow Kevin told me he tried and “they” offered him a rate higher than what we already had, popped in my mind. Real estate was his business, I didn’t know why we wouldn’t qualify for lower rates, but I trusted him. Perhaps because we both worked for ourselves we were not trustworthy, we were a high risk! I didn’t know then that if a person is late on paying their credit cards, or any bills everything is reported to the three credit agencies and a credit score is assigned to each person and when you marry someone you also marry their debt and their score! This writing is not meant to turn into financial advise for women going through hard times and deceit, but I could, unfortunately write a book just on that alone.
Later in life, many well-meaning people, I cannot call friends, in an effort to make me feel even worse asked: ” “How could a well-educated woman like you, let this happen? Why didn’t you check on him every month, make sure he was paying all bills and taxes!”
Yeah… why didn’t I? And for a while I felt I had to explain we were a team this was his part of the ‘job” and I had other responsibilities, and I’d name all of them diligently. Beside, I was an immigrant, just learned about Uncle Sam, while his family came on the Mayflower and he had an MBA.
People, not all, but the ones who really, really needed to make me feel like disappearing off the face of the Earth would be best, would just shake their heads in disbelieve.
After a while, that little girl in me, the one who ran away at the age of five said to herself: “F— you all!” and I stopped justifying.
No one was giving me a solution, only questions and more questions, more guilt piled on my soul! Yes, I was the convict fish and gasping for air and I had to save myself because no one was going to pick me up and put me back in water!
As I was thinking and praying and thinking and praying and then mostly thinking, I realized that the good part of being unable to refinance for almost 19-years, was that we accumulated equity and in 2004 the real market was booming.
“We must sell the house and split the money after all debts are paid.” I announced the following day.
“House is a mess, we can’t sell it, no one will buy.” He said.
“I will take care of it, and we will also get a divorce, I am tired of lies!”
It was my turn to walk upstairs and disappear behind my bedroom’s door, in my comfort zone. I took a cold shower in hopes it will awaken my brain and a power from above will teach me how to tell our daughters that we couldn’t wait three more years, or a year, or even a month. To tell them the only home they ever knew needed to be sold.
The future was NOW!