DEAR ABBY: I just read the letter from "Undecided in St. Paul," regarding her son's wedding and asking what to do about inviting relatives who reside in a nursing home. You advised that instead of sending them invitations, send a chatty letter or card bringing them up-to-date on the happy news -- and an announcement after the wedding -- so they remain "in the loop."
As an RN with years of employment in a nursing home setting, I know from experience that residents become very excited about being included in family affairs instead of being told after the fact. My suggestion would be to send them an invitation, arrange for transportation, and enclose a small note that states, in a tasteful manner, "No gifts, please."
If friends and family only knew how these people felt sitting in their rooms or in hallways with nothing to do. Nursing homes try hard to keep their residents happy and entertained, but nothing replaces family. -- A NURSE WHO KNOWS IN THE SOUTH
DEAR NURSE WHO KNOWS: Sometimes I should pay less attention to my brain and more attention to what my heart tells me. I responded the way I did because I did not want the recipient of the invitation to feel obligated to provide a gift, if it would be physically or financially impossible. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: My husband's grandmother was in a nursing home when we were married. It was nearby, so we arranged for our wedding party to visit her after the ceremony and before the reception. The nursing staff was excited because that's all his grandma talked about for weeks beforehand. And it was such a special day for the residents! When we arrived, they were all dressed in their "finest" to meet the new bride and groom. The looks of happiness on their faces still makes my eyes tear up! The ladies all wanted to touch my gown and told us about their weddings. Smiles and laughter resounded through the halls. We arranged for a "wedding" cake to be delivered so they could have a piece after dinner.
We were only there for about an hour, but the nurses told us how much everyone appreciated our "gift," and the residents talked about our visit for a long time afterward. Of course, we gave his grandma a photo. She kept it by her bed until she died. -- MARTY FROM EASTLAKE, OHIO
DEAR MARTY: Several readers shared stories similar to your own.
DEAR ABBY: Our daughter was married in June. The groom's elderly grandparents who raised him are both in a nursing home. This was the last wedding they expect to see. Our children's friends volunteered to transport them. It took some arranging because they are both in wheelchairs, but they had a wonderful time. Their gift was their presence. -- MOTHER OF THE BRIDE, EAST BROOKFIELD, MASS.
DEAR MOTHER: I'm sure they were as thrilled to be there as you were to have them.
DEAR ABBY: If the only consideration is obligating the folks for a gift, send the invitation! Better to be engaged in life than disengaged. I want to make my own decisions, don't you? -- GOOD LUCK TO ALL, MELVILLE, N.Y.
DEAR G.L.T.A.: You're right, and I stand corrected!