DEAR ABBY: In the past two and a half years, we lost my 94-year-old father. They had been married for 72 years. She moved into assisted living prior to the onset of COVID and all of its complications. Now that we’re all vaccinated and her facility has reopened, we’ve made it through that ordeal.
Mom has befriended a widower of comparable age. Every day, they eat, stroll, participate in activities, and enjoy sitting and conversing together. He always accompanies her to her room and tells her good night. While discussing their deceased wives, they grasp for each other’s hands and provide each other with enormous solace. The facility personnel informed me of this friendship, so I had time to process it before discussing it with my mother.
I was first anxious because I did not want her to get injured. However, I immediately recognized that this partnership is beneficial for both parties because they share comparable backgrounds and circumstances.
Mom just discovered that this man’s daughters are unhappy with their friendship, and she feels awful about it. She claims she would never intentionally harm him. I’ve informed her that she must allow his daughters time to process their friendship. How can I assist the daughters develop trust in this scenario, Abby? — DELICATE SITUATION IN ARKANSAS
DEAR DELICATE SITUATION: Your mother’s relationship is neither the first nor will it be the last to develop in a similar setting. I hope that the man’s daughters would eventually view what has transpired as a blessing. Reaching out to them is not a terrible option if you believe it would calm the situation and you can do it without making them look even more defensive. The elderly are not doing improperly. They are entitled to enjoy their remaining years. If the assisted care home has a religious counselor, he or she may be able to assist you.
DEAR ABBY: My hometown is relatively tiny and has just one school. My sister returned recently for her 50th class reunion. It was a casual affair hosted in a neighborhood pub. The event was promoted on social media, but no invites were sent.
My sister approached a man who had graduated the next year with the question, “What are you doing here?” You were not a graduate of our class!” He responded that he had played sports with a lot of the grads and want to reunite with them.
Given that the gathering was informal, was conducted in a public location, and that my sister did not arrange the event, send out invites, or serve as a hostess, I found her statement to be insensitive and inappropriate. She emphatically disagrees. What is your opinion? — SARS in Small-Town Illinois
DEAR SIS: Depending on her tone of voice (and level of inebriation) when she voiced that question, it might have been interpreted as either astonishment or curiosity. However, if the question was posed in an aggressive or accusing tone, I agree that it was inappropriate and cruel.
Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, writes Dear Abby, which was started by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at DearAbby.com or Los Angeles, California 90069, P.O. Box 69440.