Dear Abby: After guests leave, their daughter wants a report on their health
Couple isn’t comfortable answering questions about their friends’ eating habits, mental acuity and more.
DEAR ABBY: My wife and I recently hosted some longtime friends for a few days while they were passing through our area on vacation. We had a fine time reconnecting, although my wife commented after they left that they seemed to have “slowed down a bit” — to which I responded, “Yeah. Us, too, I guess.”
We just received an email from that couple’s adult daughter, with whom we’re also friendly, asking about our perceptions of her parents’ well-being. We are not comfortable responding to her very pointed questions about their eating habits, bedtimes, taking of medications, mental sharpness, etc. while they stayed with us. Is this kind of inquiry common today, or do these folks have “helicopter kids”? — ANYWHERE, USA
DEAR ANYWHERE: If it’s common, I’m unaware of it. It’s the first question of this kind that I have received. Clearly, the daughter has noticed something going on with her parents that has her worried. Because “the kids” are so concerned about their parents’ welfare that they feel compelled to ask these kinds of questions, perhaps they should travel with them so they can supervise.
If you choose to answer that email, an appropriate response would be, “I think we have all slowed down a little, but if you want to know what your folks ate (etc.) while they were with us, you should ask them.”
DEAR ABBY: Years ago, a gentleman wrote to you asking what he should get his aged parents who didn’t need another “thing.” You suggested he write them a letter telling them why he was thankful for them. He wrote you back later telling you he had taken your advice, how much it meant to his father and that, shortly afterward, his father died.
I immediately wrote each of my parents a letter listing the things I learned from them and what I cherished about them. It was the perfect, most meaningful thing I could have done for them. They have since passed on. I am so thankful that I was able to do that for them.
I have read your column for about 35 years. It is always respectful and full of common sense. Thank you. — GRATEFUL IN COEUR D’ALENE, IDAHO
DEAR GRATEFUL: You’re welcome. I’m glad you picked up on the suggestion and that it made your parents happy. I can think of few people who would not welcome — and treasure — a love letter if it’s sincere.
DEAR ABBY: I lost my hubby after 50 happy years, and yet I don’t cry. What’s wrong with me? — GRIEVING IN CALIFORNIA
DEAR GRIEVING: There is nothing wrong with you. If your husband was ill for a period of time before his death, you may have had more than enough time to grieve his loss as he was slipping away. If his passing was sudden, you may be in shock, which is why your tears won’t come. Not everyone grieves in the same way, drowning in an ocean of tears, so please do not judge yourself harshly — or at all.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
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