DEAR ABBY: My mother, who is 80 years old, hums her own made-up tunes. She has done it for as long as I can remember, but for the last few years, the frequency and intensity has increased. She does wear a hearing aid in one ear and sees her audiologist regularly. I have asked others, who say people with hearing problems often hum to fill the empty space caused by the hearing loss.
My problem is that her constant humming is so annoying it is negatively affecting my relationship with her. I have trod lightly on the subject with her to be sure she’s aware that others can hear her, in case she was thinking they couldn’t.
Mom said that once someone asked her if she was talking to herself, and she replied that she was singing to herself. My personal opinion is that it may be a soothing mechanism for her when she feels awkward during a conversation. She may feel that her humming replaces talking yet makes her feel included in the conversation.
I don’t want to cause hurt feelings or add to her discomfort. She’s shy by nature, but has come a long way in her confidence. Advice? — TUNING OUT IN PENNSYLVANIA
DEAR TUNING OUT: The first thing you should do is ask your mother to tune the humming down because it bothers you. If she doesn’t, then discuss it with her audiologist. If you don’t get the answers you need there, consult her physician. What she’s doing may be common — or not. But you need to get your questions answered by someone who knows your mother and is close enough to evaluate her.
DEAR ABBY: I tried to help out a friend who had damage to her truck. I took it upon myself without her knowledge to take pictures of her damaged truck. I thought it would help her in getting estimates on her vehicle.
Her truck was parked outside her son’s residence, and he came out immediately when he saw me from his window. I didn’t explain what I had done for reasons I would rather not say, but I planned to tell my co-worker at a later date. When I saw her at work the next day, she was furious about what I had done, and it almost destroyed our friendship.
Was I wrong in doing her a favor, or out-of-line? Was it inappropriate? I didn’t want to jeopardize our friendship; I was only trying to help. Any suggestions? — CONCERNED IN TEXAS
DEAR CONCERNED: I’m trying to understand why you didn’t VOLUNTEER to photograph the damage to your co-worker’s truck so she could get estimates on the cost of repairs. I am also in the dark about why you wouldn’t explain what you were doing when her son came outside and, I assume, asked what you were doing. Transparency would have been better than secrecy, and I hope you will carry this suggestion into the future.
DEAR ABBY: May I share four words that planted a positive seed in my heart? They are, “Make Gratitude Your Attitude.” They are strong medicine I use in coping with my disabilities, and it works. — HINT FROM HILO, HAWAII
DEAR HINT: Thank you for wanting to share your “strong medicine.” I agree it’s hard to think negatively while counting our blessings.
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.
What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS and getting along with peers and parents is in “What Every Teen Should Know.” Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds), to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)