DEAR ABBY: My mother is 102. She lives in a nursing home where everyone loves her. She is an inspiration to all. She is unable to walk but her memory is fine. In the three years she's been there, I've visited her every day except two.
Mother has more than a dozen great-grandchildren, all adults now. There wasn't a single happy event in their lives that she didn't commemorate with a gift or card. How sad, Abby, that since she's been confined, they've shut her out. They don't visit or send greeting cards for special occasions -- not even Christmas.
When I visit her, it hurts to see the tears in her eyes as she asks about each one. They are all living well, and distance is not a problem. They just don't take the time.
Please, print this in your column. They all read it. If they heed your advice, maybe smiles will replace the tears on Mother's sad and forgotten face. -- DISAPPOINTED IN CHICAGO
DEAR DISAPPOINTED: You're complaining to the wrong person. Pick up the phone and direct your dismay at "the great-grandchildren." Remind them that your mother is of sound mind and that isolation can be a killer. One nice thing about nursing homes is the fact that many patients can be taken out of them for a meal or an outing. If the great-grandchildren are not aware of it, be sure to let them know.
DEAR ABBY: I am in the process of trying to quit smoking, and I have a pet peeve.
Sometimes when I'm home relaxing and watching television, a commercial for a product to help people stop smoking will come on. Abby, the sight of a cigarette gives me the urge to smoke!
Since the surgeon general was wise enough to ban cigarette ads on TV, why are they allowed to advertise smoking cessation products and show lighted cigarettes? The sight of that burning cigarette in the ad starts me craving.
It's torture to those who are trying to quit. Please help me encourage stop-smoking advertisers NOT to use cigarettes in their ads! Thank you. -- TRYING TO QUIT SMOKING IN MICHIGAN
DEAR TRYING TO QUIT: I'm printing your letter because you have a valid point. There have been times when 15 minutes after watching a food commercial, I have found myself in the kitchen with my nose in the refrigerator. Since marketing is such a large part of our culture, the lesson here may be that people can never let down their guard.
DEAR ABBY: My husband has run up telephone bills amounting to $15,000. His credit cards are maxed out on "900" numbers. That's not all -- our two children can't go online without something sexual appearing on the screen or someone sending an instant message, thinking they are talking to my husband about sex.
When I leave the house, he immediately puts our daughters in their rooms and goes online to porn sites or to talk to women. He is taking much-needed money from me and our children to get his kicks. I have begged him to stop, but the problem is getting worse. Should I stick to my word and leave him if he doesn't quit? -- WORRIED WIFE IN KENTUCKY
DEAR WORRIED WIFE: Yes. Because your husband's problem affects the children, it is time to draw the line.
He isn't behaving that way for "kicks." He appears to be severely addicted to sex.
If he's receptive to getting help, he should contact the Augustine Fellowship. It's an international organization of more than 1,000 groups -- a 12-step program based on the principles of AA. It serves people who want to break their patterns of sex and love addiction, or obsessive/compulsive behavior. The Web site is www.slaafws.org; the phone number is 781-255-8825.
To order "How to Write Letters for All Occasions," send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Letter Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)
4520 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64111; (816) 932-6600