DEAR ABBY: A former longtime friend, "Gladys," and I have been estranged for the past 10 years. It is a complicated situation, but generally it involved her divorce and later involvement with a married man.
While I am not a prude, there were some moral and ethical breaches on her part which made it uncomfortable for me to be in her company. We stopped calling or seeing each other.
Gladys has now become quite ill and may not survive. My dilemma is whether I should pay my respects to her family at the time of her death. I have known them all for many years. -- REMAINING NAMELESS IN VIRGINIA
DEAR REMAINING NAMELESS: Funerals are supposed to provide comfort for the living, and I don't see how the presence of someone who describes herself as a "former" friend of their loved one would achieve that.
I have a suggestion. Why not pick up the phone, call Gladys and tell her how sorry you were to learn of her illness? Whether you approved of her divorce and affair, you have years of history together, and it would be better for both of you to make peace while there's still time.
DEAR ABBY: I work in the office of an elementary school. There is a lot to do, and I am frequently interrupted. While I enjoy conversations with parents and students, my problem is a few parents who want to engage in lengthy conversations -- usually detailing personal problems.
One parent comes in daily, and I haven't found an effective way to extricate myself from these conversations. Walking out of the office is not an option. A ringing phone is not a deterrent as some parents will just stand there, wait until I finish and continue talking.
Have you any suggestions on how to politely let these parents know I have a job to do? -- JOB INTERRUPTED OUT WEST
DEAR JOB INTERRUPTED: Allow me to offer one: How about telling them you're behind in your work and you haven't the time to talk that day. Period. Unless you become more assertive, these people will continue to monopolize your time, make you less effective and possibly jeopardize your job.
DEAR ABBY: Our 23-year-old daughter, "Andrea," moved out of the house at 17. She has been living with her fiance ever since. They plan to be married this summer, and my question is: Because she left our house of her own free will, is it still my husband's and my responsibility as her parents to pay for their wedding?
She has been living with her boyfriend, already has one child and is now pregnant with twins. We feel their wedding should be their expense to bear. We're willing to pay for the event if it is, in fact, still our responsibility as the bride's parents. Please advise. -- MOTHER OF THE BRIDE, ANDERSON, IND.
DEAR MOTHER OF THE BRIDE: There is a common misconception that it is the RESPONSIBILITY of the bride's parents to pay for her wedding. Not true. Assuming the cost of the wedding is a GIFT to the couple, not an obligation. Many couples today are both working and pay for all or part of their wedding themselves. If you do not wish to foot the bill for the shindig, no rule of etiquette says you have to.
To order "How to Write Letters for All Occasions," send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Letter Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)