DEAR ABBY: My parents are approaching their 80s, and I'd like to recommend to seniors that a cherished gift to their children and grandchildren would be a journal or family history book written by them describing their childhood memories and early married years. So many funny stories and historical markers of an earlier time -- before computers and fax machines -- will be lost if they're not shared.
Children and grandchildren can be given the chance to see through your eyes and your memories what their aunts, uncles and grandparents were like, and you can laugh together at the silly things that happened when you were young.
The family history can be passed from one generation to the next, and I cannot think of a more special gift. -- CHARLENE IN CAMARILLO, CALIF.
DEAR CHARLENE: That's a splendid idea. However, I would urge children and grandchildren to not wait for the family history, but to interview their parents and grandparents now, with pencil in hand. Better yet, if possible, use a video recorder.
DEAR ABBY: I have a good friend who is married to an abrasive, negative woman. She never has anything nice to say about anyone or anything.
I value this friend and would like to continue our friendship, but I don't want his wife's negative energy around my family. Should I explain that he and his children are welcome in our home, but his wife is not? Or should I arrange to see him only when I know his wife is occupied elsewhere? -- S.K. OUT WEST
DEAR S.K.: What a sad situation. Your friend's wife's behavior indicates that she's an unhappy and troubled woman. As a couple, they probably need all the friends they can get.
To tell this man that you want to protect your family from his wife's "negative energy" could end the friendship, so I don't recommend it. Seeing him when his wife is otherwise occupied would be far more diplomatic.
DEAR ABBY: I'm a fairly intelligent 45-year-old woman. After being single for four years, I began dating a man my age with whom I share many interests. Early on, we had a few fights -- possibly because we were both hurt in our previous relationships and were having a hard time adjusting to and trusting a new person.
Things have settled down now. Most of our time is spent together even though we live an hour apart, and we're considered a couple by our friends. I enjoy the time we spend together, but I keep remembering our early fights and I worry about repeats. I think because of our pasts we'll date for a long time before either of us considers moving in or making serious commitments.
My question is, how can you know if you're on the right path? -- A LITTLE SKITTISH IN CANADA
DEAR SKITTISH: The right path usually isn't a short sprint. You're on it when you realize how many common interests you have and how much you enjoy each other's company (which you do). You're on the right path when you can be open and honest with each other and work out differences without quarreling. And you're right: It can take some time to get there, but there's nothing wrong with that.