DEAR ABBY: Several years ago my mother-in-law had to be placed in a nursing care residence because of dementia. When I visited her, it became more and more difficult to find things to talk about, until one day I came across her old address book. The idea struck me to take it with me each time I visited her, and what a success it was!
I started at the beginning of the "A" section, giving her a name and asking her to tell me about that person. She remembered a lot about most of the people in the book and related wonderful stories of friendships in rural America during the Great Depression of the 1930s. Of course, there were hardships, too. She and my father-in-law worked side-by-side on the farm to support their family.
Our "story time" visits continued until full-blown Alzheimer's disease set in. I only hope she enjoyed our times together as much as I did. They were special to me, and I'd always leave the nursing home with a smile. -- FOUND A WAY IN KANSAS
DEAR FOUND A WAY: I'm sure your mother-in-law enjoyed those visits, and what a treasure trove of family history she must have shared with you. Please write down all the stories you remember for the rest of the family because they are priceless. Your idea was brilliant, and thank you for sharing it with me and my readers.
DEAR ABBY: I have recently become engaged. I have been planning this day since I was a little girl. My problem is my mother. She's a little bit of a control freak. She plans to pay for the wedding -- which is nice and I appreciate it -- but at the same time I feel like she's ignoring my plans and substituting hers. Every time I tell her what I'd like, she tries to persuade me to do what she wants.
I even tried once being rude and telling her that she has had four weddings and this one is mine, but she got defensive when I tried to be frank with her. I feel like nothing I suggest is good enough. I don't want to spoil this for her because I'm her only daughter, but I don't want her spoiling it for me because HOPEFULLY this will be my only wedding. -- LOSING PATIENCE IN LOUISIANA
DEAR LOSING PATIENCE: This may not be what you would like me to say, but as long as your mother is footing the bills for your wedding, she will have some say in the planning. If you prefer to make this a one-woman production -- and that's your privilege -- thank her warmly for her generous offer and tell her you can't accept it, and that you will be planning and paying for your wedding yourself.
DEAR ABBY: I work in a small, quiet office. My boss sits at the desk across from me and spends a great deal of time biting his nails. The noise drives me crazy and turns an otherwise pleasant work experience into a stressful one. I've tried turning up the radio, to no avail. Do you have any suggestions on how to tell my boss that he has a loud and nasty habit? -- TRAPPED WITH A NAIL-BITER
DEAR TRAPPED: No, I do not, and I recommend against you doing it. Be thankful he's not biting his toenails.
Abby shares more than 100 of her favorite recipes in two booklets: "Abby's Favorite Recipes" and "More Favorite Recipes by Dear Abby." Send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $12 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Cookbooklet Set, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in price.)