DEAR ABBY: I have lived in this town for 40 years. My ex-husband and I divorced 34 years ago. Our children are adults, and we have four grandchildren, ranging in age from 4 to 10. I have many friends, but there are two women in this town I cannot tolerate. One has been my ex-husband's wife for 25 years. They are now being divorced. Wouldn't you know -- his current "main squeeze" is the other woman I can't stand.
When his second marriage ended, the entire family breathed a sigh of relief. I am almost 70 now, and all of us had hoped we could enjoy future family events without the stress of having someone around I disliked. (The family gets together every other month or so, and both my ex and I are invited.)
My ex now wants his girlfriend included in these family celebrations. I told him in no uncertain terms that I have purposely avoided this woman for many years. I do not want to associate with her simply because he is now involved with her. My children love their father and me, and are now caught in the middle.
Abby, do you think I am being unreasonable? -- MIMI IN ST. LOUIS
DEAR MIMI: Don't make your family choose between you and your ex-husband. You cannot control whom your family invites. You CAN control how many times a year you want to be around someone you dislike.
Perhaps you have misjudged this woman. I hope you can look beyond her faults for the sake of family unity.
DEAR ABBY: This letter is in reference to the one from the pilot ("Joey Jet") who was afraid of roller coasters. You were right when you said his fear stemmed from the fact that he wasn't in control when he was on an amusement park ride.
It has been decades, but I still remember a ride at an amusement park where my boyfriend and I shared a seat and one of us could direct our "airplane flight" with a knob. When he directed us, everything was fine. As soon as I took the knob, he got sick and had to take the controls from me. As long as he was in control, he was fine.
As it turned out, he became a bomber pilot in World War II and flew 35 missions out of England over Germany. -- AUDREY IN PORT RICHEY, FLA.
DEAR AUDREY: That's interesting. If the number of letters I have received from pilots is any indication, "Joey Jet" is far from alone in suffering from the problem. Read on for an eye-opener:
DEAR ABBY: I have been both a pilot and an airport traffic controller, and have logged millions of passenger miles. I share the same problem as "Joey Jet." I have acrophobia -- a fear of heights. While I have no fear of flying, I cannot tolerate high amusement park rides like roller coasters.
I agree with you that lack of control plays a part, but it's also the fact that rides, tall buildings and canyon ledges are VISIBLY CONNECTED to the ground. When you're flying high in the sky, only your flight instruments measure altitude and speed.
Nothing compares to that exhilarating sensation of "loosing the bonds of Earth" on takeoff. -- UP AND AWAY GRANDMA IN CALIFORNIA
DEAR UP AND AWAY: Thank you for the expert input, but I disagree. For me, nothing compares to the relief I feel coasting to the terminal after a safe landing.
Dear Abby is written by Pauline Phillips and daughter Jeanne Phillips.
Abby shares her favorite recipes in a two-booklet set. To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $7.90 per set ($9 per set in Canada) to: Dear Abby Cookbooklet Set, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)
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