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by Abigail Van Buren

Daughter Wishes Stepfather Would Visit Mom More Often

DEAR ABBY: My mother is in a locked ward of a nursing home because she has Alzheimer's and is a flight risk. My stepfather has begun dating her best friend. He doesn't consider it dating because, at 85, he's no longer capable of having a physical relationship. However, taking someone to dinner, the theater, church or to a movie constitutes a date to me. People in our small town are talking. I don't care about that. It's not their business.

I don't begrudge my stepfather and his lady their relationship, but he no longer visits Mom as often as he used to. He looks for any excuse not to. An example: He will say he doesn't want to drive in the rain, then drive in a downpour to go on a date with "The Other Woman." He says Mom forgets he was there five minutes after he leaves, which, unfortunately, is true. But she lights up when she sees him, and it gives her a moment of joy to visit with him. She knows he's her husband, and the last time we had a family visit, she snuggled up to him and said, "I love you."

Am I wrong to think my stepfather is not fulfilling his vows by neglecting his wife of 25 years? I truly do not mind that he's lonely and dating, but I feel he should balance his time between the two women in his life. -- FAIR-MINDED IN TEXAS

DEAR FAIR-MINDED: You say you don't begrudge your stepfather having a social life, and yet you call what he's doing neglect. Whether your mother is aware of the fact that he's spending time away from her is debatable. I assume she's receiving excellent care, and that both of you check to ensure it.

Quite frankly, what I think about this is irrelevant. The person with whom you should discuss this is your stepfather. Unless you have walked a mile in his shoes, I do not think you should judge him.

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