DEAR ABBY: My parents are divorced. I'm glad, because all they ever did was fight and put my brother and me in the middle. I am now away at college. Dad has found a terrific girlfriend who I love. The problem is Mom.
Mom has also found someone. His name is Tom, and I can't stand him. She never drank or gambled before she met him. Now they frequent casinos, and she has multiple beers with dinner -- even when she is on medication that specifically warns not to mix with alcohol. The other problem is that Tom is always there when I come home to visit. I want some private time with Mom, but he refuses to respect that. In the 12 days that I was there, Tom ate every meal at our house. He even came along when Mom drove me back to school.
I have tried talking to her. She keeps pushing us together and has invited him to come for the weekend when she visits me at school next month. She has invited Tom to my graduation, even though tickets are limited, and has made plans to invite him to my wedding, which is almost two years away.
Abby, I don't want Tom at any of these special occasions. How can I get her to stop inviting him to things I'd prefer only my family attend? -- HAD IT IN ITHACA, N.Y.
DEAR HAD IT: You may not be able to, particularly if your mother thinks this new man in her life "completes" her in some way. She appears to be an addictive personality -- she's addicted to alcohol, gambling and HIM.
Since your mother refuses to visit you without her boyfriend, face it: Your mother has decided the price you must pay for her company is to tolerate Tom's presence. If that price is too high, limit your time with both of them. But accept the fact that having your mother at your graduation and/or your wedding means you will have to tolerate the person who has become the new center of her life.
DEAR ABBY: Please add this to your "acts of kindness" file.
I moved into a courtyard apartment three years ago. After settling in, I planted two containers of spring flowers and placed them outside my front door. They were colorful, and my neighbors commented how much they enjoyed them. Imagine my surprise and disappointment upon returning home one day to find one of the containers missing.
I was so upset that I placed a sign on the empty spot. It read: "In memory of my beautiful, lovingly tended container of flowers taken from this spot on May 22." Four days later, to my surprise and delight, in its place I found a new container of flowers. Next to it was a sign that read: "We wish we could find who took your flowers. Please enjoy these. From, A Kinder World." I tried for days to find out who left the container, but they never revealed themselves.
Abby, we should all be grateful to people who make our world a kinder place. -- V. IONE MOODY MURCHISON, SACRAMENTO, CALIF.
DEAR V: Indeed we should. I see the flowers as a metaphor for optimism, and I'm pleased that yours was restored.
To receive a collection of Abby's most memorable -- and most frequently requested -- poems and essays, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Keepers Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)
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