Thursday, 7 August 2014

Revenue Canada

When I was diagnosed with ALS, most of my world fell to pieces. Other than the small group of friends around me, the friends that have stuck with me and are with me still, I had no family or anyone else around. My brother was working in Calgary but went home most weekends. About a month after diagnosis my son came to live with me; he moved back to the coast last December. He got to see the anger phase in full bloom. My daughter has recently moved here; she gets to experience some of the life I face with this disease. I am fortunate to have them near me, even more fortunate to have my friends around.

All of my life I have done the "responsible" thing. I've raised my family, stayed when it was tough to stay, paid the bills and worked hard. I've paid my taxes, donated to church and charity, volunteered in my community and tried to be a good friend and neighbour. I think I did a good job, up until the day of my diagnosis. Since then it has been more of a struggle to do all the right things, both financially and emotionally. I tried; I even kept working for a while. It's a tough gig when you look at a future with ALS.

My consulting company is one area where I have completely failed to be responsible. After I was diagnosed it just didn't seem to matter any more. I stopped keeping records, I stopped filing taxes and submitting GST remittances. I just gave up on everything. Three months later I even stopped working. There was nothing left in me, and nothing left for me. I walked away, taking what money I could to pay for things like truck modifications, bathroom modifications, wheelchairs and all the other things that go with ALS.

Today, Revenue Canada finally called me to ask what happened. I told the agent about my story, about my illness, about my divorce, about how I just gave up and walked away. He asked me when and I told him that too. He was a bit shaken; I suspect they don't get many responses like mine. He said "Look, I will mail you a letter and we will take it from there." I told the agent that I had nothing left, that if Revenue Canada wanted anything from me they would likely have to get it from my estate.

There are some who might think I should have been more responsible, should have filed the taxes and made the remittances, should have cleaned up these loose ends. They are probably right, I should have. I should also have had time in my life to rebuild it, time to see my grandchildren go to school and to see my other children marry and have children of their own. I should have been able to go sailing this summer and river fishing this fall. I should have been able to work and live a decent life.

It was an interesting conversation with the Revenue Canada agent. Napoleon said that the only things certain in life are death and taxes. I get to deal with both of them. I wonder how it will end? It doesn't really matter; there's nothing left but the paperwork, and I don't want to bother.

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