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by Abigail Van Buren

Nursing Home Resident Is Overwhelmed by Generous Friends

DEAR ABBY: I read you every morning, and I need your advice. I am writing you from a nursing home. I am 97 years old, and I am in a wheelchair because I cannot stand, but I still make up my bed. I am an artist, and I still paint. I give the paintings I create to those who help me.

My room is small, and it will not hold a lot of stuff. I have a grandson who brings me clothes and food because I cannot eat much because of my teeth.

My problem is, when old friends come to see me, they bring beautiful gifts. They are kind, but I cannot use what they bring -- a comforter that is much too big for my bed, extra pillows or very large books that are hard to keep in my small space, although I love reading.

The nursing home is nice, and I get good care. It is kept clean, and they see I get what I need. I feel blessed.

Abby, I love my friends and don't want to hurt their feelings. This issue of gifts has become more than I know how to deal with. Can you help me know what to tell them? -- GRATEFUL IN TEXAS

DEAR GRATEFUL: Tell these lovely -- and generous -- friends that you deeply appreciate their caring and generosity, but because your room is so small, you have no place to put the items. If they haven't been in your room, show it to them so they can see for themselves.

Read more in: Friends & Neighbors | Etiquette & Ethics