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by Abigail Van Buren

Woman Proud to Be Old Doesn't Long for Youth

DEAR ABBY: I am now joining the ranks of those who have read your column for years, but have never written until now.

As a 65-year-old woman, I was appalled with the piece you printed on the glories of youth. According to you, everything that is positive is equated with being young: vigor, self-confidence, hope, courage and beauty. But everything negative is equated with being old, such as fear, pessimism, cynicism and hopelessness.

Abby, have you any idea how ageist this is? It makes being old abhorrent and depressing.

When I proudly tell people that I am 65, they say, "Oh, you don't look that old," as though they were paying me a compliment. In reality, it is an insult. What is a 65-year-old woman supposed to look like?

I am no longer young and have no desire to pass as "young." At my age, I am more creative, have more self-confidence, hope and spirituality than at any other time in my life.

Abby, we have learned a lot about racism and sexism; let us now open our minds to ageism. We need to proclaim "old" as something positive.

In closing, let me share a quote I saw on a button where there were many senior citizens.

"Youth is a gift of nature; age is a work of art." -- JOAN CATLOVER, GULFPORT, FLA.

DEAR JOAN CATLOVER: Your philosophical attitude is admirable and well worth remembering. Thank you for writing; I'm saving your letter for encouragement in my old age.

DEAR ABBY: My live-in boyfriend of eight years has recently begun a pen pal correspondence (via computer and actual mail) with three young females in various parts of the country. He says this shouldn't upset me because he just wants to be "friends" with these women, but I notice he writes only to women and tries to make his letters as charming and witty as possible. (He has never mentioned me.) There is also the possibility that he could secretly meet with one of these women who happens to live fairly close.

I call it "selling" himself, but he denies it. Nevertheless, these sound very much like the letters he used to send me during our courtship.

I am angry because I think this is inappropriate for someone who has a commitment to someone else. It is starting to hurt our relationship. What do you think? -- CONFUSED IN CINCINNATI

DEAR CONFUSED: If, after eight years of living together, your boyfriend is seeking female pen pals to charm, I would question his degree of commitment, as well as his level of honesty. Trust your instincts. I suspect they are correct.

DEAR ABBY: I am a 62-year-old mother of seven. I have not spoken to my oldest daughter in 20 years. There has been no communication in any form between us. We live 2,000 miles from each other.

I would like to come to peace with her. How can I do this? Her siblings tell me she is happy with things the way they are. -- A GRIEVING MOTHER IN WYOMING

DEAR GRIEVING MOTHER: Since you want to make peace with her, extend the olive branch by writing her a letter, expressing your feelings. You have nothing to lose.

If she rebukes your offer to bury the hatchet, you will have the satisfaction of knowing that you tried.

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