A Grin at the End: Utterly unromantic…

October 2015 Posted in Columnists & Opinion

carl-sampsonBy Carl Sampson

This may be the least romantic column ever written. It may even be less romantic than the columns written by those political pundits jabbering about Donald Trump.

In fact, it is so unromantic I bet only an accountant could love it.

The other day I did something I had put off for, oh, about 27 years. I cleaned out my file cabinet. My wife was looking for a place to stow her school papers, so I offered to get rid of the papers that I had accumulated over the years.

What a job that was. It took an entire day and almost cost the life of my paper shredder, which overheated and, its warning light blinking, begged me not to stuff another tax return down its gullet.

But I persevered.

One by one, I worked through the files. I started with “A,” as in automobile. I found the paperwork for every car my wife and I had owned during the past nearly 30 years. The best cars we ever owned couldn’t have been more different. One was a tiny 1987 Honda Civic; the other was a massive 1990 Ford 15-passenger van.

Both were reliable, trouble-free and we still regret getting rid of them. In fact, the van was so perfect for our family that when we went on vacation we could take all six of us, our two dogs and two cats and still have plenty of room for all of our other stuff.

After they were born, all four of our boys were brought home from the hospital in the Civic and all four learned how to drive in it. Those vehicles were part of the family.

After rummaging through “B” for bank statements, which reminded me of all the money we spent on “A,” I worked through the other letters of the alphabet, including “H” for household equipment, “I” for insurance, which reminded me of my mortality, and “P” for personal, which included everything from my eighth-grade report card to my mom and dad’s birth certificates.

Then I got to the biggie — “T,” as in taxes. There, within the decades of state and federal tax returns, was the synopsis of our lives.

The oldest return, 1986, reminded me that when we first got married we were DINKs — Double Income, No Kids. Boy did we have a lot of money. Actually, we didn’t have that much money, we just didn’t have many expenses.

Then in 1987 our first deduction arrived, Paul. We was followed two years later by Peter, then by John and Mark.

While all that was happening, the return addresses were changing, from Juneau, Alaska, to St. James, Minn., to Stayton, Ore. Note how they are gradually moving farther south.

The returns reminded me of our efforts to help send the kids and my wife to college and graduate school. It’s evidence that my wife and I believe a good education is one of the best gifts we can give our children.

Best of all, though, the reams of paper that I ran through the shredder reminded me that my wife and I, along with our kids, really are a unit, not only in the eyes of the Internal Revenue Service, but in the eyes of God.

Carl Sampson is a freelance writer and editor.

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