DEAR ABBY: I have a friend, "Steve," whose wife, "Marie," died five years ago. Marie was one of the most popular and beloved ladies in town. Their child was left without a mother. Steve remarried about two years ago. Marie's mother continued to stay in close contact with Steve and her grandchild.
Recently, Steve approached me at a social function. He was beaming. He told me he was buying a new house. He said his former mother-in-law had told him in plain English to put away Marie's pictures and buy his wife a new home.
Apparently the mother-in-law is a lot like her daughter -- charming, thoughtful and considerate. -- STEVE'S FRIEND
DEAR FRIEND: Marie's mother is also sensitive and practical. Orchids to her. I usually receive letters from readers complaining about their mothers-in-law. It's refreshing to hear the other side of the story. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: My mother-in-law, who is now 89, has lived with our family for more than 30 years. Her name is Collette, but everyone calls her Goldie. I don't know when people began calling her that, but I do know she is worth her weight in gold.
Goldie has devoted a large portion of her life to helping my family. We have had to hire a baby sitter only twice for our three children the entire time they were growing up. Goldie cooked the majority of our evening meals. She helped to wash and iron to the point where my wife had to start hiding our clothes to stop her mother from working so hard. She watched our dogs during the day, and they preferred her company over ours.
Whenever my family needed Goldie, she was there. She is very considerate. If she feels we need our privacy, she goes to her living quarters. We often beg her to stay, but she won't change her mind. We learned early on not to impose our wills on Goldie.
I feel sorry for people who don't have a Goldie in their lives. When she is no longer with us, I will forever feel the loss. -- TOM, HER SON-IN-LAW
DEAR TOM: What a glowing tribute for a son-in-law to offer. You're a lucky family to have each other. It would be wonderful if more families could enjoy the love and cooperation between generations that yours does. Perhaps the secret lies in mutual respect for each other's boundaries.
DEAR ABBY: Your wisdom is remarkable. You told "Confused in West Sacramento" that "Happiness is where you find it; age is a state of mind."
I married my lovely Blanche on Sept. 15, 1951. We just celebrated our 50th anniversary at Fancy Feet Ballroom in Oregon City. We danced an exhibition ballroom cha-cha and enjoyed dancing with our many friends. Our son's band furnished two terrific hours of music.
Blanche is now 74; I am 96. (I have a daughter one year older than Blanche.) Love, good nutrition, dancing, gardening and mutual intellectual interests keep us active and happy. Our first date was at the Palladium in Hollywood, Calif. We have danced together with joy ever since! -- HARRY F. BILLINGS, SALEM, ORE.
DEAR HARRY: Your letter proves that dancing not only lifts the spirits, but also provides healthy cardiovascular exercise that can add quality to a long life. The same can be said of love -- which you also have in abundance. May it ever be thus. (I have a hunch your wife loves to dance to "I'm Just Wild About Harry"!)
For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order "How to Have a Lovely Wedding." Send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby, Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)
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