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by Abigail Van Buren

Bowler's Daughter Hopes He'll Strike Down His Spare Pounds

DEAR ABBY: My father is 35 years old. He has had two disks removed from his back. His doctor put him on a diet to lose 50 pounds, but Dad isn't very good at staying on a diet. He knows he should follow the doctor's orders and lose weight, but I see him already slipping back into his old eating habits.

Daddy is a professional bowler with many trophies to prove his skill. I've tried to talk to him, to make him understand that his spine can't handle all his weight plus the weight of the bowling ball. I'm afraid he's going to injure his back even more than he already has. I worry that he'll end up in a wheelchair for the rest of his life.

I'm 13 and I love my father very much. I don't want this to happen to him. What can I say or do? How can I help him understand that I want him to walk me down the aisle on my wedding day and to dance with me at my reception? How can I make him realize what he's doing to himself and to me? -- TROUBLED DAUGHTER

DEAR TROUBLED: I understand how much you want to help your father, but it is not your responsibility. It is HIS responsibility to help himself and to help you with your fears, not the other way around. I'm printing your letter so you can show it to him. Seeing your moving words in black-and-white should be all the motivation he needs. Bless you, dear.

P.S. Although the likelihood that your father will need a wheelchair in the future is not great, you should know that many fathers who are in wheelchairs have not only escorted their daughters down the aisle, but also danced with them at their reception.