It is well known that short-term memory is the first to go as we age. I have just finished the acid test for my aging short-term memory—preparing the questionnaire supplied by my accountant for our 2015 federal and state income taxes in the US.
You would think that filling out this form would be relatively simple. After all, we are only three months into the new year and the details of last year’s expenses and income should be fresh in my mind. The form starts with several pages of yes and no questions. “Did your marital status change during the year?” Easy enough. “Do you have any children under age 19 or a full-time student under age 24 with unearned income in excess of $2,100?” Piece of cake. I’m really “cooking with gas,” as we used to say in the days before microwave ovens.
Then the items begin to get harder. “Charitable Contributions made by cash or check.” OK, Elyn always figures that one out; I’ll put it on her list of “to do” items. “Medical and Dental Expenses.” Ditto. It’s on her list. “Federal Estimated Tax Payments.” I seem to recall that we missed the deadline for one of those payments, but I don’t remember the details. I’ll ask Elyn to see if she remembers. “Rent and Royalty on 205 Irvine in Santa Fe, NM.” I don’t think we had any income on that property in 2015 because it was being remodeled after the flood damage. Was that for the whole year, or did we have some income in 2015? How to check on that? I can’t remember where I would have stored those details. I guess I’ll have to ask Elyn about that as well. “Insurance on the house.” What was the story there? I remember that we had our insurance cancelled after the flood, but was that in 2015 or 2014? Where can I find what we paid for insurance? Question after question and I not only don’t know the answer, but I don’t remember how to find the answer. I will either have to give up and turn the whole job over to Elyn or come up with a plan for how to deal with these details.
OK, get a grip. I can do this. After all, I can remember the smallest details about my early life. I remember how we had one concrete sidewalk within walking distance from my house when I was five years old. We called it “the good sidewalk,” and it was the one place where you could roller skate or ride your tricycle. I remember the maple tree next to the good sidewalk. Why can’t I remember where to find out about our house insurance?
About this time my anxiety levels are going through the roof. I can’t answer any of the questions before me. When I come to the repair expenses we incurred in preparation for selling the house, I give up entirely and put it on the list for Elyn and me to work out together. It’s time to give up and admit that I am no longer competent to take care of our financial business. My head is filling up with cotton and the queasy feeling in my stomach is about to turn into full-scale nausea.
Maybe this is a sign of a stroke. Elyn asks can I raise my hands? Yes. Can I stick out my tongue? Yes. I guess I haven’t had a stroke yet. Maybe I just need to take a break and get away from all this. Yes, that would be a good idea. I’ll lie down and take a short nap.
Lying down is OK, but taking a nap? Not a chance. My cotton-filled head is just reeling with the enormity of the task before me. I guess it’s time to admit defeat. I tell Elyn that I am hopelessly confused and need her assistance to complete the tax documents. She is sympathetic and says that of course she will help me.
So, next day we tackle it together. My head isn’t much better, but I know I have help. Together we plow through the questions and, one by one, I can put a number in the blanks on the form. Finally, we tackle the big question of what we paid for repairs on the house. That is not easy, but we get a good approximation and I write down a number. Finished. We call FedEx and have them come and pick up the forms. It is out of here.
I have this lingering mental confusion that is gradually going away as I write this. Elyn just handed me Donna Eden’s The Little Book of Energy Medicine. Donna has an exercise that she guarantees will restore my memory. Now, if I can only remember to do it!