DEAR HARRIETTE: My 80-year-old father lives in a retirement community. He likes it a lot and seems to be thriving since he moved there last year. My mother died two years ago, and my father needed to be around others.
He recently called to tell me he has a girlfriend. I’m not sure how I feel about this. Obviously my mother is gone, but it hasn’t been that long. Am I wrong for wishing that he would wait? He was married for more than 50 years. I don’t understand how he could look at another woman romantically after having devoted his whole life to my mother. It is hard for me to be happy for him. What can I do to fix my attitude? My father wants my blessing, and so far I have not given it. -- Not My Mom, Cincinnati
DEAR NOT MY MOM: You are being unreasonably harsh on your father. Two years have passed since your mother died, and your father has mourned. Now he wants some joy in the life he is living. He cannot bring back or replace your mother, but that doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be allowed a chance at sharing moments with another woman. By all means, give him your blessing. So many older people have no one to love. That there is a woman who fancies him and whom he likes could be wonderful. It doesn’t mean he will forget your mother. What it does mean is that he is choosing to live in the moment. You should too.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I have a new friend who inspires me a lot. She is married with children, like me, but somehow she makes time for her girlfriends. She has a core group of friends who are her ride-or-die friends. They see each other regularly -- and she also spends time with her family. The difference between us is she works part time and I work full time. I have a couple of friends I rarely see. I wish I could be more like her. Any suggestions? -- Friend Connect, Dallas
DEAR FRIEND CONNECT: Your friend is a gregarious woman who has figured out how to incorporate many people into her life with ease. That is a gift not everyone has. You should pay attention to how she organizes her time to see if you can glean clues you can use. Don’t diminish her part-time work schedule as being a help. When you work full time, it allows you a lot less time for socializing. Give yourself a bit of a break.
Now, what can you do to expand your friend connections while taking care of your family? Organize at-home activities where you invite your friends to join you where you already are. You can also choose one evening a month when you go out with your friends. Just as you make time for your friends, do the same thing with your husband and children. Schedule time for connections so you take nothing for granted.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)