DEAR ABBY: A good friend's wife is currently in hospice care and not expected to live much longer. While I was at Walmart the other day, I passed through the card department and, because I was already there, I figured I would purchase a condolence/sympathy card. When my inner circle discovered I had bought the card before she passed, they criticized me to no end. I thought it was an efficient thing to do. I'm not wrong, am I? -- EFFICIENT IN THE MIDWEST
DEAR EFFICIENT: Oh, come on! There was nothing wrong with what you did. Many people buy cards of all types because they think the message is appropriate. You thought of your friend and his wife while you were in the card section, and it is the thought that counts -- not the date of purchase. If you made any mistake, it was in letting it be known that you purchased the card in advance. In a situation like this, discretion is key.