Letters from my mother

While I’d like to think I’m pretty personable, I’m not very personal. I’d offer a life history but it will have to suffice to say that, having grown up in a family of small business owners and surrounded by local farms that I worked on from a young age, I’m often focused on work wherever I may be at the time. A few years ago I was told by a former co-worker, now a good friend, that I need to open up more, and with Mother’s Day around the corner I thought I might try something new.

My mom died a few years ago after losing a battle with cancer and so Mother’s Day has been a little tough ever since. I spent some time last night looking through our correspondence over the years and thought I would share a few gems.

She was a small business owner for decades. In the Spring of 2005 she had just received an e-mail from a local IT firm trying to win her business. This was her reply:

Will you send info to my son so that he can review for me? He manages IT professionally and you’ll need to win him over to win me over!


Jim did eventually win me over, although it did take him quite a few months of convincing.

Four and a half years ago I told her I was getting married. This elicited her usual “happy dance” along with a big hug. Later that same day, however, her mind turned to the tax implications. Of course. For those missing the joke she had been an accountant and bookkeeper for about 25 years and had probably also had a couple glasses of wine at this point.


Remember there is ABSOLUTELY NO REASON to get married for tax purposes as Congress did away with the ‘Marriage Penalty” years ago..AND when the MARRIAGE PENALTY did exist.. it was married couples that were being penalized !!!

BEFORE, I would have recommended that you NEVER get married… as 2 singles got better tax breaks than a married couple !!

…historical info: the ‘marriage penalty’ wasn’t such a big issue when grandpa & grandma were young BUT, almost no women worked !!! Then, came the 60’s, 70’s etc… and as women got more and more educated and realized that they did, indeed, have a brain !!
MOST of them went and got jobs!!

I DEFINITELY need to advise you that BEFORE you get married…. BOTH OF YOU see a premarital counselor for a few months!!!!


…and thank you Mom for always being on top of my finances.

Last but not least, when the dot com bubble popped I was in a bit of a rut. I’d had some good success in that era – nothing close to Silicon Valley money but shortly before the pop I’d built a ton of small biz websites, IT systems, and software tools and was aiming to use that portfolio to launch a career out west. By this point a lot of that work had dried up and I wasn’t sure what direction to take myself. We had a lot of other family in construction which seemed to be solid and I was considering dropping out of the technology field.

Sean… you are at least SIX YEARS younger than your next youngest relative. Dad and I worked really hard to make sure you had lots of opportunities. None of us oldies in the family accomplished half of what you have at your age…. your cousins do what they do because that’s what they are good at. You are good at computers. Dad was good with computers… he got to work on stuff for the space station!! Stick with it!!!

PLUS.. if anyone’s throwing this around and getting you down I want to know.. you should never feel either inferior or superior to anyone. Just be you.


“Get back to work” – Mom.

…and you know where my work ethic comes from.



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