DEAR ABBY: I was an only child. I am 53 years old and have been married 33 years. All my life, my mother told me never to tell my maternal grandmother when our family had plans, because she would always "get sick" and spoil everything. For several months, my husband and I have been looking forward to a vacation in a cabin in the mountains. We have not had one mainly because of the illness and death of our son.
My mother has scheduled back surgery three days before our vacation. She had three choices, but selected that day. She keeps telling me not to cancel my vacation, but I know I will pay dearly if I don't. I will never hear the end of it.
We really need this time away. My husband cares for his invalid mother on a daily basis, and I have a very stressful job. We could use this time to gather our wits about us.
Should I cancel our plans and accept what I know is my responsibility, or go ahead and take a vacation and "face the music"? -- TORN IN KENTUCKY
DEAR TORN: Take the vacation you and your husband so sorely need. If your mother tries to lay a guilt trip on you when you return, don't take the bait. Calmly point out that she chose the date for her operation knowing when you were leaving, and she had other options.
If this sounds harsh, forgive me, but you must take care of yourself first, and your reasons for going are compelling.
DEAR ABBY: I am furious at "Lesson Learned in Florida," who thought marrying a "relative stranger" for the sake of his child was a mistake! How about sleeping with a "relative stranger" for the sake of physical pleasure? I guess that part didn't bother him as much.
And the divorce was painful and traumatic for him? How about the quality of life for a little girl who must struggle with two selfish, irresponsible parents who have joint custody? How about the confusion and turmoil of straddling two homes? Now that WILL be traumatic for an innocent little victim of his bad behavior.
For those who haven't made these foolish and unfortunate mistakes yet, take this advice: Don't marry strangers, but don't sleep with strangers, either. Keep your pants zipped until you know and love your chosen mate. The result will be that a planned and wanted child will be raised in a home where married people love and care for each other. -- MELISSA ATTINOTO, ORION, MICH.
DEAR MELISSA: I agree that it's irresponsible to sleep with strangers. It is even more irresponsible to have sexual relations without protection. Both the man and the woman risked a possibly life-threatening, sexually transmitted disease, as well as an unplanned pregnancy.
However, not all children of divorce are traumatized by "straddling two homes," as long as each home is filled with unconditional love.
CONFIDENTIAL TO "LOST IN LOVE": Don't marry for money; you can borrow it cheaper. (Scottish proverb)
Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)
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