DEAR ABBY: I haven't seen my dad in about 10 years. He was abusive when I was growing up, and it was a relief when Mom finally divorced him. At one point, my sister caught him peeking at her through the bathroom window.
I finally gave up on him after I became an adult, living overseas in a remote area for seven years. My father never answered a single letter I wrote, or even sent a Christmas card. When I came to town on annual leave he never had much time for me, and once he stood me up at a restaurant. When I moved back to the United States, I decided to stop initiating contact. He's never been to visit me.
He called about six months ago and asked me to visit him the next time I'm in his town. As it happens, I'll be there in a month or two.
Father feels a little guilty about his past behavior, but mostly he's in denial and expects his children to respect him. I feel uncomfortable seeing him, but he's growing older and I don't want to feel guilty when he dies.
What do you think is the right thing to do? -- FED UP IN ALASKA
DEAR FED UP: Love and respect aren't automatic; they have to be earned and nurtured. Certainly, your father has done little over the years to deserve your respect. I hate to see you set up for more heartbreak. However, if you don't go that extra mile and give him a telephone call when you arrive, you may always regret it. You'll be able to tell from the response you get at that time whether it's worth your time and effort to re-establish contact.