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by Abigail Van Buren

Boy Cringes When Parents Talk of Family Finances

DEAR ABBY: For the past several years I have worked in a medical office. I see patients every three months or as little as once a year.

Two years ago, my mother was diagnosed with cancer. She passed away last spring. Because of the stress of my dear mother's illness and death, my weight has fluctuated.

Some of my patients don't hesitate to point out how "chunky" I have become. One woman even went so far as to ask if I was "happy with the way I have let myself go." Abby, how do I defend my weight gain without getting into my personal life? -- IMPATIENT WITH MY PATIENTS IN RHODE ISLAND

DEAR IMPATIENT: Please accept my sympathy for the loss of your mother. I'm sure the last two years have been painful. I see no reason why, if someone is so insensitive as to mention your weight, you shouldn't let the person have the truth with both barrels. If that doesn't shame him or her into an apology, nothing will. However, because you prefer to conceal it, try this response: "You know, I gained this weight the old-fashioned way -- one bite at a time, and that's the way it'll have to come off."