DEAR ABBY: I have never written for advice before, but this really bugs me: A friend and neighbor of ours borrowed a very expensive gardening tool and broke a part on it.
My husband, "Walter," and I have always believed that when you break something you have borrowed, you repair it, get it repaired or replace it. Our neighbor brought the tool back and told Walter what had happened, but made no offer to pay for the repairs. So far, Walter has spent more than an hour on the phone trying to get information on repairs and parts. He'll have to travel at least an hour (there and back) to purchase the parts, and has been told they will cost at least $40.
When Walter approached our neighbor about the problem, the guy responded, "I don't have a problem!" Then he reluctantly offered to pay half the cost.
Walter is afraid that if he presses the issue, he'll lose this friend. Abby, I'm married to a nice guy, but I think he's being played for a sucker. I told Walter that if it were my tool, I'd have it repaired, forget about getting reimbursed, and never loan anything to this neighbor again.
We've been married almost 50 years and never had a problem like this before. All our friends have been real friends. I contend this neighbor is no friend, only a user. However, he is a neighbor, so that complicates the matter.
Is there a solution I'm overlooking here? -- MRS. NICE GUY
DEAR MRS. NICE GUY: No. Your gut reaction is right on target.
DEAR ABBY: My father was recently diagnosed with a terminal illness and given less than six months to live. With my wife's blessings, I am staying at my parents' home on weekdays to assist as much as possible with his care. I do this following a 12-hour night shift, so the time I can devote to actually talking with my father and doing everything he needs done is limited. Much of my time is taken up with bathing him, helping him into his wheelchair and tending to his personal needs -- and of course, I must sleep a little.
My eldest stepson asked to visit my father, and I told him that I prefer no visitors at this time (my father sleeps most of the time). Dad will not see anyone unless he's dressed and in his wheelchair, because he doesn't want anyone to feel sorry for him. It is time-consuming to prepare him for visitors.
My wife is upset with me for not allowing my stepson to visit. If the boy were close to my father, it would be different, but he hasn't seen Dad more than six times in the last four years.
Abby, am I being unreasonable in making sure my father gets everything he wants? -- DUTIFUL SON IN NEVADA
DEAR DUTIFUL SON: Dutiful is the right word to describe you, a son who is making every effort to make his father's last days as pleasant as possible. However, YOU made the decision there would be no visitors, and your father is the one who should decide that. Even though it creates more work for you, your stepson should be allowed to visit your father unless your dad doesn't want to see the boy. A short visit can provide a psychological lift for those who are ill. Also, your stepson may need to make amends or say goodbye before your father passes away. Unfortunately, there is very little time for him to do so.
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