Dear Abby: Elderly man’s daughters upset as he befriends my widowed mom

Relationship between the two assisted living residents seems to bring comfort to both of them, but it troubles the man’s adult children.

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DEAR ABBY: Two and a half years ago we lost my dad, who was 94. He and Mom had been married 72 years. She entered assisted living right before COVID — with all its difficulties — set in. We made it through that, we’re all vaccinated now and her facility has opened back up.

Mom has met and befriended a similarly aged widower. They eat together, walk, attend activities and enjoy sitting and talking together every day. He always walks her back to her room and nicely bids her a good night. They reach for one another’s hands to hold while talking about their departed spouses and are a source of great comfort for each other. I learned about this friendship from facility staff, so I had time to digest it alone before talking with my mother about it.

At first, I was nervous because I did not want her to be hurt. But I quickly realized that this relationship is very good for both of them, as they share similar histories and circumstances.

Mom has recently found out that this man’s daughters are upset about their friendship, and she feels badly about it. She says she would never do anything to hurt him. I’ve told her she needs to give his daughters time to wrap their minds around their friendship. Abby, what can I do to help the daughters build trust in this situation? — DELICATE SITUATION IN ARKANSAS

DEAR DELICATE SITUATION: Your mother’s is not the first romance to blossom in a situation like this, and it won’t be the last. What has happened is a blessing, and I hope the man’s daughters will come to regard it as one. Reaching out to them isn’t a bad idea, if you think it may calm the situation and you can do it without making them more defensive than they already appear to be. The older folks are doing nothing wrong. They have a right to be happy in their remaining years. If there is a religious adviser connected to the assisted living facility, he or she might be able to help you.

DEAR ABBY: I come from a very small town which has only one school. My sister recently returned to attend her 50th class reunion. It was very informal and held in a local tavern. The event was announced on social media, but no formal invitations were sent out.

When my sister spotted a man who had graduated the following year, she approached him and asked, “What are you doing here? You didn’t graduate with our class!” He answered that he had participated in sports with a number of the graduates and wanted to see them again.

Considering that the event was casual, held in a public place and that my sister didn’t organize the event, send out invitations or act as a hostess, I thought her remark was out of line and mean. She strongly disagrees. What do you think? — SMALL-TOWN SIS IN ILLINOIS

DEAR SIS: Depending upon your sister’s tone of voice (and degree of sobriety) when she asked that question, it may have come across as an expression of surprise or curiosity. However, if it was asked in a hostile or accusatory manner, I agree with you that it was out of line and mean.

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,

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