DEAR ABBY: My mother passed away a little over a year ago, after being married to my father for 30 years. Recently, Dad has found a girlfriend -- or rather, she found him. I'll call this woman Alexis.
Alexis has taken it upon herself to come into his home, take down the wallpaper, paint the walls a different color, and throw away a lot of his "junk" -- which is what she called most of my mother's things! She has also reorganized the kitchen and rearranged the furniture, books -- everything.
One room in Dad's house was set up just for my children. Alexis removed all their toys, put them in an upstairs closet, and replaced them with a display case filled with fragile china figurines. She has also instructed her granddaughter to call my father "Grandpa."
Alexis prepared a holiday dinner at Dad's house and sat her own family at the main table. I was relegated to a card table in the other room. She also invited her daughter, parents and sisters to my father's house for a birthday party that Dad didn't even want -- and made him foot the bill! She never offers to pay for anything. I think Alexis thinks she's found herself a "meal ticket."
How do I let her know that what she's doing is extremely rude without being rude myself? -- DISPLACED DAUGHTER
DEAR DAUGHTER: Please accept my sympathy for the loss of your mother. If you believe your father is of sound mind and not being intimidated by his girlfriend, then you must respect his wish to have her around. Alexis may be tactless, and you may not approve of her, but it is up to him to tell her when she has gone too far -- not you.
DEAR ABBY: The wedding season is approaching, and on behalf of all professional photographers, I'm writing about the rudeness of wedding guests who bring their own cameras to the wedding ceremony. They behave as if they're at a tourist attraction.
Professional photographers honor church rules, and often the wishes of the wedding party, by not "blinding" the bride, the groom or the clergy by taking flash photos during the ceremony.
After the ceremony, when we're trying to set up formal group pictures, these same guests jump in front of us like paparazzi! I've even seen mothers of the bride whip out a camera. Why do people hire a professional photographer and then allow this to happen?
Abby, please inform these people how rude they are. The bride and groom have hired us to capture their wedding on film. If the wedding guests want pictures, they can order them through the bride. Guests do not bring extra flowers or an extra cake to supplement the efforts of the florist and caterer, so why do they do this to the photographer? Our job must be done in a timely manner, and the kind of interference I have described prevents us from doing our best work in the least amount of time. -- MIFFED PRO IN SOUTH CAROLINA
DEAR MIFFED: I'm printing your message, but it's not going to be popular. I agree that taking flash pictures during a church service is considered rude, and it can detract from the solemnity of the ceremony.
However, most couples appreciate both the formal photographs and the amateur snapshots. Candid shots caught by amateurs often reflect the personalities of the wedding party and guests better than the formal, posed portraits taken by professionals because the subjects are more relaxed.
P.S. Some photographers avoid the problems you're encountering by taking their formal portraits before the ceremony. If this doesn't work for you, consider bringing an assistant along to help with "crowd control."
Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)