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Words of Wisdom at B-Day Time

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March 25, 2020


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I had a birthday this week. If there is a piece of wisdom I can share from the last 12 months, it is this: Who in the name of our Founding Fathers knows what’s next?

I was chilling last Saturday (at home of course) when I walked out the front door to retrieve the mail. I was in a comfortable mood, having cleaned out a messy bedroom closet that a slovenly teenager would envy. As I opened the mailbox, at the top of the stack, was an envelope marked “Important Tax Document.”

My blood pressure rose. Colorful language was uttered as I walked back to the house. I opened the envelope and on the form were two dreaded words I didn’t expect to see this tax season: “Corrected 1099.”

Some of you may be tax procrastinators. I am not. I begin tax preparations in early January and we target filing state and federal income tax returns in the first days of March. I hate the tax process and system. Abolish the Internal Revenue Service and show me where to sign up for a national sales tax!

When we signed our electronic approval form early last week and mailed it to our tax preparer, my wife and I thought another tax year had mercifully been put behind us. The “Corrected 1099” had other ideas, and to expedite the new process I drove to my tax preparer’s office last Saturday afternoon to deliver the surprise paperwork so she could refigure the federal and state income tax returns.

A brother-in-law emailed this message on my birthday: “Hey, this doesn’t seem to be a good time for birthdays, but I guess you can’t decide that.”

Spot on, Mark. Who could have predicted the scourge of the coronavirus threatening the health of Americans and causing millions to retreat to inside their homes. I have spent hours on mundane chores like cleaning a closet or bookcase, and purging old files. I haven’t been inside a store since last Thursday.

Sports fans have been reduced to watching baseball, basketball and football games from the past. Presumably the most hard core fans have learned there is more to home life than guzzling beer on the couch while watching the latest big game. Some may have discovered there are children in the house, although oblivion doesn’t include the ever faithful dog that retrieves beer from the cooler.

It’s just a strange year so far. Maybe my first clue should have been when my wife and I were in Palm Springs. She was waiting in a long car rental line when her cell phone kept ringing from an unknown number. Finally, she answered the call and it was a stranger who had mistakenly taken a piece of her luggage at the airport. My wife and stranger not only had identical bags, but both had the same style of luggage tags.

My wife loves to travel and her departure for Europe last July coincided with my developing severe back spasms the night before I was to drive her to the airport. Welcome to Uber, honey.

Excruciating pain doesn’t do justice to the experience of having back spasms. During my wife’s three week absence I struggled to avoid contractions but many times without success. Reaching into the refrigerator or into the oven was a sure invitation for attack. One Saturday while she was gone I called one of my sons to drive me to an urgent care facility.

Last summer and into the fall the spasms persisted. I had multiple cortisone shots, and lined my drawer with Celebrex, Prednisone and Tizanidine. I also discovered Tylenol 8 hour Arthritis Pain tablets were useful. My schedule and activities were reduced for months. It was almost like my back was preparing me for stay-at-home times when the virus hit this winter.

I had experienced previous bouts with back spasms, but nothing like the duration of 2019. The spasms stopped November 1 and haven’t returned since then. I credit exercises learned in physical therapy for most of my recovery. A couple glasses of wine helps, too.

I couldn’t have prognosticated the back saga anymore than I could have foreseen a couple of startling developments on the local sports scene. In spring training a year ago the baseball gods were proclaiming the Minnesota Twins might win 85 games and finish second to the Cleveland Indians in the AL Central Division.


Instead they set a MLB record with 307 home runs as the Bomba Squad led the charge in winning 101 games and the division championship.

The Gophers football season was at least as impressive. Coach P.J. Fleck’s team was a popular choice to finish next to last in the Big Ten’s West Division. Instead, Minnesota was 7-2 in Big Ten games and tied Wisconsin for the best record in the division. The Gophers finished up as a national top 10 team after their startling bowl win over SEC power Auburn.

Remember what also happened in January?

Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins won a playoff game!

My birthday celebration was to include a party with my sons and their families. We called it off about a week in advance. Instead of decisions about how to decorate the party room, we pondered whether to gather via FaceTime or Zoom!

I had a nice birthday, though. Lots to be grateful for even in these strange and stressful times. Birthday morning I inexplicably slept until 9 a.m. No idea when I last slept that late—perhaps decades ago. Maybe I am becoming another Benjamin Button.

I never contemplated becoming like the movie character who grows younger as time passes. Guess you never know what’s next.

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About Author


David Shama

David Shama is a former sports editor and columnist with local publications. His writing and reporting experiences include covering the Minnesota Vikings, Minnesota Twins, Minnesota Timberwolves and Minnesota Gophers. Shama’s career experiences also include sports marketing. He is the former Marketing Director of the Minnesota North Stars of the NHL. He is also the former Marketing Director of the United States Tennis Association’s Northern Section. A native of Minneapolis, Shama has been part of the community his entire life. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota where he majored in journalism. He also has a Master’s degree in education from the University of St. Thomas. He was a member of the Governor’s NBA’s Task Force to help create interest in bringing pro basketball to town in the 1980s.

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