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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I recently retired, but I haven't told anyone. I receive widow's benefits, so I'm comfortable financially. I like my privacy, and I'm afraid things will change if I tell people about my retirement. My father is dying of cancer.

My best friend says if I were her sister, she'd be mad at me. My sister lives a mile away and I don't want her dropping in on me. If she knew, she'd include me in everything she does. I feel this is my life and I want to enjoy it alone for the most part. Am I wrong? Am I hurting anyone?

I was widowed 20 years ago and have had no serious relationships since. I'm independent, attractive and have joined a few dating sites, but I'm picky and have not met a man who attracts me. I'm 66, in good health and look younger. Am I being selfish? Do you have any advice for me? -- LONER LADY OUT WEST

DEAR LONER LADY: If your sister has shouldered the responsibility of caring for your dying father by herself, thinking you are too busy working to help, then she would have every reason to be very angry. Even if that's not the case, her feelings will be hurt when she finds out -- and she will -- that you're avoiding her.

If she didn't love you, she wouldn't want to include you in her life. All you need to do is say no to her invitation if the activity isn't your cup of tea. And surely, you can find a tactful way to ask any drop-in visitor to make plans with you ahead of time instead of dropping in.

You say you want to enjoy your life alone for the most part, but you have joined dating sites. In this life, people have to give in order to get. It may be the attitude you're projecting that's keeping you from meeting men on those dating sites. And yes, I think you are selfish.

Read more in: Etiquette & Ethics | Work & School | Death | Family & Parenting

DEAR ABBY: My son is getting married next year. My future daughter-in-law is demanding that I (mother of the groom) wear a strapless green dress. The bride is also wearing green.

I am over 40 and no longer have a 20-something body, and I'm extremely uncomfortable wearing a dress where all my imperfections hang out and wobble for the world to see. She has informed me that if I don't wear the dress of her choice, I should just stay home.

Everyone I have talked to has told me to pick the style and color dress I prefer. If I show up in a dress that isn't green, I'm pretty sure it will create a scene and I'll be asked to leave.

I don't know what to do! Do I cave and wear what she asked of me, or wear what I want and face the wrath of Bridezilla? -- SEEING GREEN IN ILLINOIS

DEAR SEEING GREEN: Your son's fiancee appears to be rude, self-centered and insensitive (to put it mildly). That she would actually force you to choose between an outfit that makes you feel overexposed and not attending your son's wedding is shocking. Does your son know about this, and what does he think about it?

Talk to her once more. Tell her that while you have no objection to wearing something green, you do not intend to wear anything strapless -- and if she really means that if you don't comply you won't be welcome at the wedding, you will not be there. Let's hope it brings her to her senses because if it doesn't, I doubt you'll be seeing much of her and your son anyway.

Read more in: Holidays & Celebrations | Etiquette & Ethics | Family & Parenting

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