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by Abigail Van Buren

Grandma In No Shape To Travel

DEAR ABBY: Our youngest daughter will graduate from college next month. The school is 10 hours away by car or a 2 1/2-hour plane ride. There are no direct flights.

My husband and I are excited about this special day, and so is his 82-year-old mother. (I'll call her Ethel.) She mentioned yesterday that she's excited to go.

Abby, Ethel is not a well woman. She has trouble walking, falls occasionally and hasn't been out of this town for 30 years. She is also hypercritical. She does nothing but complain about other people, her health, this country, etc. Looking after her would be a huge burden.

We'd like to attend this milestone event without the added stress of taking care of her. My husband and I have been married 25 years, and Ethel still complains about me. Because she's such a handful, we have never taken her to dinner or a movie. How do we (kindly) tell her that what she has in mind is not going to be possible? -- READY TO CELEBRATE IN SAN DIEGO

DEAR READY TO CELEBRATE: You and your husband should tell his mother that graduations in the best of circumstances are stressful events and can be difficult for someone who is unsteady on her feet. You could also mention that seating is limited, because it often is at graduations. Then offer to videotape the ceremony so she doesn't have to miss it.

Read more in: Family & Parenting | Health & Safety