Operating Instructions

I am now well into my 3rd week of living in my parents’ house after isolating at a hotel. (Remember my movie “Holidays at the Hilton” is available on demand and in your living room!) Every morning, I fill a 45-year-old pot with oat milk (yes, I’ve been in California a long time) to steam […]

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I am now well into my 3rd week of living in my parents’ house after isolating at a hotel. (Remember my movie “Holidays at the Hilton” is available on demand and in your living room!) Every morning, I fill a 45-year-old pot with oat milk (yes, I’ve been in California a long time) to steam it for my coffee. The problem with the pot – like most things from the era – is that it has outlasted its usefulness.

Wrigley Field is still going strong, so is Fenway Park, but the concrete monolithic stadiums in St. Louis, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh – all of the same era as this pot – have been replaced and so, like them, it is time for a something newer. Each morning, I spend a few minutes online looking for a new pot or set of pots to gift my parents and each morning, I stop. There is too much information, too many options and too many things to think about that flood my brain and make me forget what I needed. Is a $149 pot necessary? Will a 9-piece set for that same price do the trick? Words like double-walled, induction and stainless with options like a silicone handle (you don’t want to burn your hand!) become a word salad.

And so, I stop, and I make the choice to burn my milk.

All I want is for someone to say, “here is the pot you need for this situation.” Life doesn’t work that way, and on the internet, there are far too many recommendations to sort through.

People do not come with a manual either.  Choices are made every day that impact what comes next. There are many books about how to take care of a new baby, there is plenty of advice to sift through, but at the end of the day, every parent “puts down the book and picks up the baby.” We all seek advice from experts on countless choices every day. Ultimately, though we trust our gut to lead us to making the right choice. How do we know it’s the right choice? We never do, but it is the right choice for us at the time.

This is where we are with my dad. Daily, we speak with specialists, generalists, caregivers, friends with similar experiences and then, we make a choice as to how to proceed. Are they the right choices? If you live in a defined black and white world, we will never know. The world, however, is not black and white and so we rely on the assumption that the choices we make are the right choices for us. Our latest decision was to bring Nate home from the hospital. He will come home in a day or two with care that will make him comfortable in familiar surroundings where people can visit him and he is not tethered to too many machines. The choices of what to do and when to do them will be ours. We will consult with doctors and nurses and caregivers, but when it to comes to decision time, we too, will put down the proverbial books and “pick up the baby.” It feels right and so, it is right.

I will stay in town for a few days after he comes home – yet another choice that no one can make for me. I will get home and face other choices. Do I isolate/quarantine when I get home? Will I just shower and hang out with my family not knowing if the person next to me on the plane just “had to get out of the house”? My co-passenger will have made a choice, too – they may have chosen to ignore the advice of experts and common sense. They will have thought it was their right choice.

If anyone truly does have an operating manual for life, please let me know. (You will likely make a fortune, too.) Until that manual presents itself, I will sit here, enjoy my burnt beverage and contemplate my current choice: Where to sit to watch the Ohio State football game. I am not sure which chair I will sit in, but I know that I will be sitting next to the cut out of my dad that sat in Ohio Stadium this season when fans were only able to send facsimiles of themselves.

The right choice, indeed.

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