DEAR ABBY: I nearly went crazy when I read your advice to "Me," the woman who was dreading taking on the care of her elderly parents and severely handicapped sibling.
Why should this woman sacrifice what's left of her already damaged life because her parents failed to plan for the future? Abby, she told you that she was ready to fall apart! How dare you encourage her to take on such a gargantuan task? What about HER health, HER husband and HER marriage?I have an 84-year-old father and a 19-year-old severely retarded son. Both are in nursing homes, so I know all about guilt, but I also know about exhaustion and trying to do the impossible.
The decision to place a family member in an institution is very painful, but it's often the best for all involved. You should have encouraged this woman to look beyond martyrdom and realize that she has other options.
Forgive me if I sound angry, but after 19 years, I am so tired of hearing, "The Lord never gives us a heavier burden than we can carry." It is just a religious platitude. It doesn't solve anything. The God I believe in doesn't pick out "special people" to send tragedies to.
I cringe every time you print "Heaven's Very Special Child." For years, someone would cut it out and send it to me. I would like to write a parody someday about how hard it is to get a baby sitter when "Heaven's Very Special Child" grows a beard!
I am signing my name, and I hope you use it. - ELLEN DONNELLY, ROCKY RIVER, OHIO
DEAR ELLEN: I'll forgive you for being angry, if you'll forgive me for my platitudinous non-answer. Thank you for your wise and gutsy letter. You humbled me, and I deserved it.
DEAR ABBY: This may sound silly to be bothering you with, but it's really getting to me. My son (I'll call him Greg) is nearly 12. His teacher told me he hasn't been going outside for recess lately. He finally admitted to me it's because two boys at school won't let him play with the group of boys in their class. Greg says it's because he isn't good at sports. He gets along fine with all the other boys, but they tend to go along with these two boys who are excluding him.
Greg is a little under the average height and weight for his age group. He is very smart - a straight-A student - all except in physical education. And the girls like him.
It hurts me probably more than it hurts Greg. Is there anything I can do to help him? Maybe if I called up the mothers of these two boys and explained the situation, it would help. Please advise me. - GREG'S MOM
DEAR MOM: If you want to help Greg, please don't help him too much. I know you are well-intentioned, but I urge you to resist calling the mothers of the two boys who are excluding your son.
Were you to call, the "excluders" would probably resent Greg's whining to his mother who, in turn, reported the unfair behavior to their mothers. And instead of including Greg, they would be more apt to taunt him and call him "Mama's boy."
Greg has to learn to fight his own battles. Back off, Mom.
DEAR ABBY: I am on the planning committee for my 10th high school reunion. Someone came up with the idea of sending flowers to the parents of those classmates who have passed away. She thought it would be nice to let those parents know that their deceased children have not been forgotten, and their classmates will be thinking of them on that special occasion.
A few members of the committee were opposed to that idea, saying it would make the parents sad to be reminded of their loss. How do you feel about this, Abby - WAITING TO HEAR
DEAR WAITING: I vote to send the flowers. It would be a lovely, thoughtful gesture. Parents who have lost a child live with their loss daily, so you need not worry about "reminding" them.
Don't put off writing thank-you notes, letters of sympathy, etc., because you don't know what to say. Get Abby's booklet, "How to Write Letters for All Occasions." Send a check or money order for $2.89 ($3.39 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Letter Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054 (postage is included).