Dear Abby: Should I still call my mom if she won’t remember it?

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DEAR ABBY: My mom is 82 and suffering from dementia. I have called her every Sunday since I left home for college in 1990. We used to talk for an hour, sharing what had happened to us since we last spoke.

Abby, I loved those calls, which allowed me to stay close to my mom despite the distance. Now I can barely manage five or 10 minutes. It’s basically just me telling her things about my week. She still remembers me, but she doesn’t talk much.

I have started to skip our weekly calls because they are very painful to me. Dad says Mom misses my calls, but I know that’s not true. I know I should call her — even if she doesn’t remember I did — but it hurts so much. Do you have any advice on how to deal with this? — HER SON IN AUSTIN, TEXAS

DEAR SON: You are a good son, and a fortunate one to have had such a close and loving relationship with your mom. Dementia is a terrible disease, one that steals not only memories but the ability to communicate. If you think you are feeling bad or guilty now, imagine how you will feel when she passes away and you are left knowing you didn’t do the things you could to lift her spirits.

Please don’t skip those calls. They may no longer last an hour, but your father has told you she is aware of their absence. Believe him. Tell her the good things that are happening in your life. Tell her jokes that will make her laugh. If her disease is as advanced as you say, you can tell them repeatedly and she won’t know the difference.

The sound of your voice is what counts, and the words, “I love you, Mom.”

DEAR ABBY: I am a woman who has re-entered the dating pool after a few years of being single. I have gone on some amazing dates with fabulous men.

I met someone online last summer. “Miles” had a similar story — long, bad marriage and now living life to the fullest. I adore his personality (and looks), but I have never met him in person. We talk often, sharing dating stories and everything else, knowing it won’t go anywhere as he lives 1,000 miles away. We have developed a strong emotional bond and have become great friends.

My emotions have now moved past friendship. I believe Miles can sense it because he has pulled back a little. I know realistically it won’t work due to the distance. My kids are still in school, and I’d feel guilty asking him to move away from his business, kids (grown), parents, family, etc.

Should I quit talking to him altogether, because apparently I can’t keep it where it has been for the last several months? We agree that we “met” for a reason, and only time will tell what that reason is or if it goes anywhere. I’m heartbroken and emotionally unavailable to the great men around me. My heart is with Miles. Advice? — SMITTEN IN SOUTH CAROLINA

DEAR SMITTEN: You and Miles may have met for a reason, but there’s also a reason why the two of you haven’t met in person in nearly a year. The fact that his reaction to the idea that you might be getting serious about him is to pull back makes me wonder whether you may have jumped the gun.

Before allowing yourself to fall further in love, you have some work to do to get your emotions back under control so you can move forward and be more receptive to the “great men” in your own area who are available.

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 or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

To order “How to Write Letters for All Occasions,” send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds), to: Dear Abby — Letter Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. Shipping and handling are included in the price.

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