DEAR ABBY: Please help us deal with a problem we have with a dear aunt.
Every time my husband and I visit her, she greets us by telling us we have gained a lot of weight, then proceeds to tell us about other family members who are also gaining weight. If we dine out, she comments on the amount of food we eat. We are active, and 25 to 30 years younger than Auntie. No one in the family has gained an excessive amount of weight.
She has already noticed that some family members don't visit as often, and her remarks about their weight are the reason.
I don't want to cause hurt feelings. Should we try to talk to her or just ignore her comments? -- AUNTIE'S NIECE
DEAR AUNTIE'S NIECE: Talk to her. The time to bring it up is the next time your aunt mentions that the relatives don't visit as often as they used to. Her comments may be well-intended, but they are extremely tactless.
DEAR ABBY: "Glad I Tried, Joliet, Ill.," who wondered if her comatose mother heard her when she said "I love you," may feel better after hearing my experience.
My aunt was a second mother to me. She kept me when I was a child and was there for me during my critical years. Later in life, I received a call from her daughter saying that she was in a coma and not expected to live. She was living in another state, but I rushed to her side. As I stood alone in her room, I saw her move the big toe on her right foot. I said, "If you can hear me, wiggle your right toe." She did! I then asked her to move her toe once for "yes" to my questions and twice for a "no" answer.
My talk with her lasted several hours. Although she was in a coma, she responded to my every question with the correct "yes" or "no" while I sat there and talked about our lives and the many experiences we had shared. During that time, I recalled many beautiful times, and I talked and laughed while she used her toe to "talk" to me. It was a moving experience that I cherish and will always remember. Two days later, my aunt passed away. -- JOHN W. BLACK, MARINA DEL REY, CALIF.
DEAR JOHN: How kind of you to take the time to write and confirm from your own personal experience that people in comas can hear and comprehend. I received a similar account from a widow in San Francisco. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: We were standing around my husband's bed, all so sad, when my son said, "Dad, this is Al. If you can hear me, wiggle your feet." Lo and behold, the covers moved. Then he said, "Dad, Uncle Frank and his wife are here. If you can hear me, shake your feet." You should have seen the covers!
Abby, please consider this proof-positive that people in a coma can hear. My darling was pretty well into the coma because he passed away about four hours later. -- SEVEN-YEAR WIDOW, SAN FRANCISCO
DEAR WIDOW: My condolences on the loss of your beloved husband. Thank you for sharing your last precious moments with him so that others will know that as long as the breath of life is there, it is never too late to express your love and compassion for someone near and dear.
To order "How to Write Letters for All Occasions," send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Letter Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)
4520 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64111; (816) 932-6600