It was late December of 2020. COVID cabin fever was hitting me hard. As a writer and communications consultant, I’ve long worked from an office in my home. I was used to working alone at home, but COVID isolation was pushing me beyond my limits.

Family issues were also weighing me down. My father, then 87, was facing a series of health challenges. I was on guard day and night, waiting for a phone call to ask me to help get him off the floor because his legs were no longer able to hold him.

Tom Purcell is a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review humor columnist. Email him at

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