Story: Mom’s death taught Midway woman compassion

Karen Lane/KL 2019

MIDWAY, TEXAS: Karen Lane, age 52, of Midway, has an interesting job. She is the Madison County Tax Assessor/Collector. Her office is in the courthouse in Madisonville, the county seat.

Wife of Craig and mom of Justin and Shelby, and mother-in-law of Megan, Karen likes the challenges she faces each day with her work.

She told The Murphy Gazette, “After being a stay at home mom for seven years, we moved back to Texas. With both kids going to school full-time, I needed something to fill my days.”

Karen continued, “Honestly, I applied at the tax office without really knowing much about what the tax office really did. I’ve always like customer service and it seemed like a good place to serve people.”

A fan of scrap booking, cross-stitching, photography and “watching my kids do things that they love to do,” Karen, as tax assessor/collector is responsible for the collection of property tax and all aspects of motor vehicle and boat titling and registration.

“I supervise my three employees, distribute property tax collections to six entities, distribute sales tax and state funds to the appropriate agencies, and help residents with any questions or problems they have.”

She said, “I could fill a page with all the responsibilities that I have, and the things I do on a daily basis. Most of it is boring paperwork or book keeping.”

“But, when someone comes in, and is having trouble paying their taxes, I know it is probably the hardest thing they are going to do that day, and how hard it is for them to swallow their pride just to come in and talk to me,” Karen commented.

“The feeling I get when they walk out knowing we have a plan to get them out of the hole they are in makes all the other stresses of the day go away. The best days for me are the days I can help someone through what for the is a difficult problem that really isn’t that difficult,” she smiled.

Karen said, “There are fun parts too, like when a certain business owner comes that just loves to give me a hard time. The banter back and forth leaves us both laughing with a smile on our faces. No one likes paying taxes but I try to make it as painless as possible.”

Her compassion comes from her own life experiences, as does her definition of the word hope.

“That’s a hard one. The dictionary defines hope as a feeling of expedition and desire for a certain thing to happen,” Karen said. “To me hope and faith go hand in hand. I can have hope that something will turn out the way I want it and faith is that it turns out the way it is supposed to.”

She reflected. “My mom taught me to stand on my own two feet so it’s hard for me to depend on others. My life hasn’t been perfect.”

Karen explained, “My parents divorced when I was 10, and both remarried within a year. I had great bonus parents.”

“But, the separation from my dad was hard for me. I had to balance loyalty to my parents while loving both of my new parents,” she said, and added. “I lost my mom to breast cancer in 2003.That was the hardest thing I have ever been through.”

“I would not have made it without Craig. I was a mess, and he let me be a mess until I had to be strong for everyone else, and he let me be strong. I would not have made it without him. I have since lost my bonus mom, bonus dad and father-in-law all to cancer.”

Karen continued, “This loss has made me realize that everyone has some type of loss or some problem. I may not be able to solve anything, but I can listen and sometime that’s all they need.”

She said, “ I have learned to compartmentalize my emotions. The saying ‘what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger-’ I’ve taken that to heart at times.”

“I didn’t think I would survive losing my mom. She was my best friend,” Karen remarked. “But I had two small children and a husband that needed me so I pushed on-putting one foot In front of the other until it became routine.”

An avid reader, she enjoys picking up the latest books belonging to Janet Evanovich, Sue Grafton, and John Grisham.

When asked if she had any words of wisdom to share, Karen thought for a minute. “Always be kinder than you feel. You never know what kind of day they are having.”


Author: rlhwrites

Curator of prose and such.

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