DEAR ABBY: No one in my family will tell my grandmother the reason they don't call her is she talks too much. None of us is retired like she is, and our evenings are chaotic enough without a two-hour conversation with her. Relatives ask me to relay messages on their behalf so they won't have to call her. She's always crying and telling me I'm the only one who is "good to her."
I'd feel guilty if I had to tell Grandma the truth -- but I, as well as the rest of the family, have had enough of her long, guilt-inducing talks and trips down memory lane from 1940. How can I get the point across without devastating her sensitive nature? -- CAPTIVE AUDIENCE IN FLORIDA
DEAR CAPTIVE AUDIENCE: The next time your grandmother tells you you're the only one who is good to her, you need to tell her she'd have better luck with the other relatives if she limited the length of her phone calls to them. Encourage her to find other interests so she isn't as lonely and dependent as she appears to be. To do so isn't cruel; you'll be doing her a favor because what's driving people away is her neediness.
I don't know what your grandmother retired from, but she should have retired TO something more than her telephone. Unless she lives in the wilderness, she should be encouraged to get out and volunteer.
DEAR ABBY: I received a wedding invitation from my step-cousin. She has been part of the family since we were kids. We have always had a friendly relationship.
My problem is, my last name is misspelled on the invitation. I'm married, so I no longer use the family name. I'd like to correct her for future reference (and so the place card is correct at the wedding reception), but I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings. What's the proper thing to do in this situation? -- DROP THE "E," PLEASE, IN PITTSBURGH
DEAR DROP THE "E": Whoever addressed your invitation may have been in a hurry, or your married name may have been incorrectly entered into a database. Because you are friendly with your step-cousin, call her and remind her about the proper spelling of your married name. Wouldn't you want to know? I would.
DEAR ABBY: When I was in fourth grade, I was a bully. I remember one girl, Margaret, whose life I made particularly miserable with verbal and physical abuse. Every time I did it, I immediately felt guilty because I saw how devastated and unhappy she was. I knew her pain because I had a rotten home life.
I grew up to be a responsible citizen and loving mother, but as I approach 80, I still wish I could tell Margaret how sorry I am. How do I resolve this? -- FORMER BULLY IN ALBUQUERQUE
DEAR FORMER BULLY: Because you know Margaret's age and place of birth, try Googling her. If you find her, offer the apology. However, if she is deceased, you'll have to work on forgiving yourself.
Today, many schools have programs that discourage or prevent bullying. It's sad for you and Margaret that there was no one to reach out to who could have made things better for both of you. Had there been, it might have made both your childhoods more pleasant.
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