DEAR ABBY: My father is 80. In his prime he was a businessman with lots of contacts. Most of his friends and siblings are gone now. He doesn't take good care of himself. His hair is unkempt, he goes weeks without shaving, his pants sag, and worst of all, his fingernails are full of dirt. He doesn't get out much, so I'm not sure it's important to him.
My main concern is how to handle this with the funeral home when he dies. Is this something they would clean? I can't imagine putting anyone through that. It would also not reflect who he really is.
I have never been comfortable confronting Dad about his appearance as he is sure to have his feelings hurt. I would appreciate your thoughts on this. -- CAN'T CONFRONT DAD IN INDIANA
DEAR CAN'T CONFRONT: Is your father in good physical health? If he is, could he be depressed or becoming demented? Those could be reasons why he has let his appearance go. From your description, your dad appears to have become very isolated. Perhaps if you encouraged him to join a senior group, he'd be more inclined to fix himself up and visit a barber. But I digress.
If your sole concern is how your father will look in his casket, your concerns will be alleviated when you talk about it with the director of the funeral home you plan to use. Making sure a body is clean and presentable is standard procedure.
DEAR ABBY: In recent years, when I befriend women, we start off having things in common (husband, children). Then these women lose all other interests and talk about nothing else. I have a wide range of interests (sports, travel, work, church -- you name it), and I'm willing to listen and learn.
Abby, I have never met these women's families and I am so tired of hearing their children's names that I'm starting to distance myself. I have dedicated most of my life to my husband and raising my children. I do not want to spend the rest of it talking about them. How do I handle these ladies? -- STARVED FOR STIMULATING CONVERSATION
DEAR STARVED: Birds of a feather flock together. If you want stimulating conversation, you will have to find another flock to fly around with. Sign up for classes at a local college, join a political campaign, volunteer at a hospital, join a group that helps the less fortunate, go to a museum. Do this and I assure you, you will meet others whose interests more closely match yours.
DEAR ABBY: I've met a man with whom I get along well. He is a physical therapist. We talk and joke during my therapy sessions. He makes them seem more like fun than work.
I think we could be friends if given the chance. When I have finished my therapy at the practice, would it be OK to ask if we could keep in touch? If so, how does one approach this? He's married, but I'm not looking for a romantic relationship. I would just enjoy being able to talk with him occasionally. -- ON THE MEND IN GEORGIA
DEAR ON THE MEND: When your therapy is completed, tell him you enjoyed the sessions and how enjoyable conversing with him was. Then ask if you can talk occasionally because he has many of the qualities you would like in a friend. You have nothing to lose by asking.
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