DEAR ABBY: We received a nasty note from our daughter-in-law, "Ariella." She lives several states away. Her father passed away about six weeks ago. They lived out of state, and we were never close with them.
Ariella is angry because we didn't send flowers to the viewing and didn't send her mother a sympathy card until two weeks after the funeral.
We're in our late 70s. Ariella's father was 89. Should we have sent flowers? And is two weeks after a death too late to send a sympathy card? Our other three children each received identical notes from Ariella. -- BEFUDDLED IN ALABAMA
DEAR BEFUDDLED: I'll say this about your daughter-in-law -- she's outspoken about her emotions. Ariella's parents may have lived out of state, but they are (were) members of your extended family, and frankly, the nonchalance with which you treated the death of Ariella's father surprises me.
No law says you were obligated to send flowers for the funeral -- but to have done so would have been a compassionate gesture and let her and her mother know you cared. To then wait two weeks before extending any condolences was cold in light of the fact that you could have picked up the phone and done it immediately -- and the same goes for your children.
DEAR ABBY: After 35 years living out of state, my parents have moved to my hometown, and I am thrilled to have them so near.
My problem: Now that I'm seeing my mother on a daily basis, I know what I'm going to look like in 20 years. She and I recognize our physical similarities and laugh about them: our noses, our coloring and our rear ends, etc. These genes will override any "magic cream" on the market.
Mother has many qualities that I admire and aspire to have, but I guess I wasn't ready for a preview peek into the aging mirror. I have never considered myself vain, but I would like to be slimmer and keep a more youthful appearance. Is it hopeless? The problem isn't my mother -- it's me. -- AFRAID OF DESTINY
DEAR AFRAID: It's not hopeless. Biology doesn't have to dictate one's destiny. Your diet and lifestyle can have a tremendous effect on your appearance in 20 years. Also, men and women seem to have aged more slowly in recent decades than they did in the 1930s, '40s and '50s.
If you want reassurance, drag out some old family albums and take a look at how your aunts, uncles and grandparents looked at your age. Please don't obsess about something that may not happen because nothing ages a woman like stress.
DEAR ABBY: My friend's daughter asked her child's godparent to buy a $60 to $100 dress for the baptismal service. I told my friend I had never heard of the parents not buying the outfit themselves.
The daughter cannot afford to buy the dress herself. Was it appropriate to ask this of a godparent? -- UNCERTAIN IN OMAHA
DEAR UNCERTAIN: She may have thought so. According to Emily Post: "The baby's gown -- often one that was worn by the baby's mother, father or one of his grandparents -- is provided by the parents, not the godparents -- A FORMER TRADITION THAT HAS GONE BY THE BOARD" (italics are mine).
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