DEAR ABBY: I recently visited my "Aunt Selma" in North Carolina. I used to consider her a wonderful person until I found out what she has been up to.
One of Aunt Selma's neighbors pays her to follow her husband and a neighbor lady. (I'll call her Nona.) The wife thinks that Nona and her husband are having an affair. My aunt follows them occasionally, and afterward she calls the man's wife and lies to her. She makes up things she thinks the wife wants to hear.
When I asked Aunt Selma why she does this, she said she isn't going to give up good money to tell this woman the truth -- that there's nothing between the husband and the neighbor!
I used to think Aunt Selma was a respectable person. Now I see her as a money-grubber. She constantly lies to this woman about things her husband and Nona are doing, when in fact Nona is in the house alone watching television.
I have a feeling Aunt Selma is going to get hurt one day for making up all those stories about the husband and her neighbor.
I know the people involved. Should I tell them what's going on? -- STEAMED NIECE IN THE SOUTH
DEAR STEAMED: I think you should. It could go a long way toward healing a troubled marriage.
When Aunt Selma's vicious money-making scheme comes to an end, suggest that she devote her spare time to taking a creative writing class. With her imagination, she could earn a legitimate living writing romance novels. (Shame on her!)
DEAR ABBY: Would you please put out the word to insensitive people that just because you reach a certain age, it doesn't mean you have to retire? My husband enjoys his job, but is always hounded about when he's going to retire. Because people are 64 or 65 doesn't mean they have to sit down and do nothing. I consider it an insult to be constantly asked when we're going to stop. It's as if they are saying we are old.
I know too many people who sit around waiting to die. Just because a time was set, years ago, for drawing Social Security, that's no reason people have to stop doing what they enjoy. I don't understand why people ask such personal questions. It's a real turn-off. It's as if they're implying that we haven't wisely managed our finances, planned ahead or invested wisely -- which we have. We are active people, younger than our age in many ways.
Thanks for letting me get this off my chest. I'd be grateful if you would print this for the world to see. -- OFFENDED IN VIRGINIA
DEAR OFFENDED: You're welcome.
Those who assume that folks in their mid-60s who continue working do so because it's necessary may be not only barking up the wrong tree, but also relying on outdated information. In recognition of the fact that our population is living longer and in better health than a generation ago, there are now financial incentives for people to remain in the workplace until age 70. Also, it shouldn't be lost on anyone that people who are successful in their careers and enjoy what they are doing are often unwilling to "hang it up" simply because they've reached a "magic number."
When people tell me they are planning to retire, my first question is always, "Retire to what?" It's vital to stay mentally and physically active -- or old age WILL set in! That's why I have always considered "retirement" a dirty word.
Dear Abby is written by Pauline Phillips and daughter Jeanne Phillips.
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