DEAR ABBY: I am 34. My last living grandparent is my grandmother, "Gladys," who is 87. Ever since my grandfather died eight years ago, she has been depressed without showing signs of getting any better. The only thing that gives Granny Gladys any pleasure is seeing her family -- but it's never enough for her. No matter how often she sees anyone in the family, she tries to make us feel guilty for not spending more time with her.
I moved to another state last year, and whenever Granny Gladys calls she tries to make me feel guilty for moving. She has no interest in making friends, and if I suggest she join a senior citizens group, she complains that "all old people do is gripe about their aches and pains," and she doesn't want to listen to people complain all day. But Abby, all my grandmother does is complain about how lonely she is!
How can I ease my guilt about moving to another state? And how can I help her to be less depressed and stop laying guilt trips on our family? -- WORRIED ABOUT GRANNY, MORRISVILLE, N.C.
DEAR WORRIED ABOUT GRANNY: You appear to be a sweet, caring person, but it should not be your responsibility to lift Granny Gladys out of her eight-year "depression." Your grandmother appears to be prejudiced against people of her own generation. Many women are widowed after long marriages and go on to live satisfying lives.
You know as well as I do that older people do a lot more than "gripe about their aches and pains." As their health permits, they donate time to the community, socialize and keep themselves active and involved.
Your grandmother appears to have chosen to do none of those things. In fact, she seems to be happy in her misery. So please don't try to change her -- because if you succeed, you'll take away what appears to be her favorite topic of conversation.
DEAR ABBY: I am a daughter of two parents who, until recently, have been the best parents a girl could hope for. I graduated from high school and was accepted into a prestigious college in New York. I attended the school for a year, and my grades -- like those of many freshmen -- were not exciting.
During the second semester, my father lost his job, and so I finished the semester and dropped out of school. I no longer attend college. I am working part-time now, using the other time to look for a second job.
At family gatherings, my parents continue to say I attend this prestigious school, that I am "doing great" and that I'm almost done with college. I am not hurt as much as I am ashamed. Are my parents ashamed of me and my current "non-student" status? What should I do? -- DENIED IN N.Y.
DEAR DENIED: Your parents may feel ashamed that they haven't been able to pay for your education as they had planned, but I don't think they are in any way ashamed of you.
With one year of college under your belt, it is important that you complete your education. Because you can no longer depend upon your parents to pay for it, my advice is to pay a visit to the financial aid office of the school you were attending and see what you can work out. Your local library is also a terrific source of information when researching scholarships for which you might qualify. Please don't wait any longer to do this.
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