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by Abigail Van Buren

Lake House Vacation Tradition Changes After Mom's Passing

DEAR ABBY: Every summer, my husband and I, our two boys and my parents would take several vacations at Mom and Dad's lake home. This is where Dad grew up and where we spent countless vacations as children. It holds much sentimental value to us all. We were lucky enough to have our own space upstairs and were free to enjoy the home as if it was ours. We always contributed to groceries and cleaning before we left, and it was very enjoyable for everyone.

My mother passed away last year after a long battle with a debilitating disease. Dad is planning to retire soon and move permanently to the lake home, which is about seven hours away. However, he has found a girlfriend he has become close to, and upon retiring, he plans to have her move in with him.

I am thrilled that Dad has found someone, but I'm left wondering how to handle visits to our beloved vacation spot once Dad's new lady moves in. He insists we visit as we naturally would, which usually means staying several nights as it is quite far away. We don't know Dad's lady very well yet, and I'm feeling awkward about visiting. Do we continue to treat this as we once did, like it is partly ours? What's proper etiquette here? -- THROWN IN SOUTH DAKOTA

DEAR THROWN: Your father has made it plain that he would like you to visit "as you naturally would." Because you are feeling awkward, this is something you should discuss with him, if only to make sure he will be able to welcome you as he has in the past. It would not be a breach of etiquette to level with him about what's on your mind. Once you start going there and interacting, you will get to know his lady friend, and she will get to know you -- and that should break the ice.

Read more in: Family & Parenting | Death