Dear Abby: People keep texting in the wee hours, when I fear the worst

Going back to sleep is impossible after a non-emergency message arrives at 3 a.m.

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DEAR ABBY: My wife and I are both recently retired. Our 19-year-old daughter lives 100 miles away at college. My wife has an elderly mother. My problem is family and friends who text early in the morning.

When I was working, I had to get up at 4:30 a.m., so one of the biggest rewards of retirement is no alarm clock. My wife keeps her cellphone next to the bed because of our daughter and her mother, so putting it somewhere else is not an option.

When a text comes through, I automatically think the worst. My adrenaline kicks in, and I can’t go back to sleep. One person even sent me birthday wishes at 3 a.m.

Why do people know not to call at those hours unless it’s an emergency but still text? How can I gracefully let people know that even though they are up, I am enjoying the rewards of a well-earned retirement and would like to be able to sleep until I wake up on my own? — LATE TO RISE IN PENNSYLVANIA

DEAR LATE: Notify your friends and family that unless there is an emergency, they should please not text before 10 a.m. because it wakes you up. Repeat that message as often as necessary. And do some research because there may be features on your wife’s cellphone that would enable ONLY texts from your daughter and mother-in-law to come through, while you blissfully slumber.

DEAR ABBY: When my parents were in their 70s and began to lose friends, I remember their discussions about when it was generally acceptable for the surviving spouse to begin “keeping company” with another woman or man. The consensus seemed to be about one year, depending upon the circumstances of the deceased spouse’s health prior to dying, the length of their marriage, etc.

Times have certainly changed, but I’m wondering: Is there still a recommended amount of time in which to begin dating without being disrespectful to the memory of the deceased partner or other family members? — INQUIRING MIND IN MICHIGAN

DEAR INQUIRING MIND: Some widowed people are emotionally prepared for the loss of their spouse. Others, knocked completely off balance, need more time to recover, and some choose to remain mateless for the rest of their lives.

If you’re asking what “others” might consider a suitable time for a widowed person to resume romantic relationships, and you plan to live your life according to other people’s standards, then conform to the one-year rule. However, if you feel ready before that, then go for it. Everyone grieves the loss of a spouse differently.

DEAR ABBY: I recently celebrated a milestone birthday, for which my children gave a beautiful party. It was glorious. The problem is I inadvertently left two couples off the list. I’m trying to move beyond it, but it really bothers me. What can I say to them? What can I say to myself in dealing with this omission? Thank you for your insight. — FEELING LIKE A DUMMY

DEAR FEELING: Be honest and say, “I don’t know what happened. I must have had a brain glitch. If I have caused hurt feelings, I apologize. Please forgive me.” (You aren’t the first person this has happened to, and you won’t be the last, so forgive YOURSELF.)

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.

Abby shares more than 100 of her favorite recipes in two booklets: “Abby’s Favorite Recipes” and “More Favorite Recipes by Dear Abby.” Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $16 (U.S. funds), to: Dear Abby, Cookbooklet Set, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

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