DEAR ABBY: I saw something today that broke my heart. A woman who appeared to be in her late 30s was sitting in a restaurant with a woman who looked to be in her mid-70s. It may have been her mother. The entire time I was in the restaurant -- about an hour -- I saw not one sign of verbal or visual contact between them.
The reason? The younger woman was on a hands-free cell phone, talking office talk from the moment their orders were placed. The older woman sat eating her meal, clearly with little interest and no animation. When they were finished eating, the younger one paid the server, and then gestured "let's leave" by pointing toward the exit. She got up quickly, motioning for her mother to hurry.
I found the episode upsetting, and I hope she reads this: Life is so short. Take your mom to lunch whenever you can, but talk with her, laugh with her, connect with her. Show her the respect and kindness she's due. Your cell phone will be around long after your mother is gone, and there will be no memories to bring you comfort. -- ALWAYS MADE TIME FOR MOM IN BALTIMORE
DEAR ALWAYS: I wish that what you saw was an isolated incident, but it isn't. For years, I have seen what appears to be an entire generation of people behaving similarly. My husband and I were having dinner in a restaurant recently. At the next table were a young woman (late 20s, early 30s) having dinner with a gentleman who appeared to be her grandfather. During the meal, he did not utter a word. She did all the talking -- loudly -- into her cell phone, making one business call after another. As he paid the bill and they left the restaurant, the woman was still on the phone. She didn't even thank him for the dinner.
A few months before that, we were in another restaurant. A table away was a very attractive couple who were seated across from each other in romantic candlelight. They spent their entire meal deeply involved in earnest conversation on their cell phones. But not a word was said to each other.
Is this the "new" intimacy? It seems that fewer and fewer people are connecting with the people they are with. And this includes parents who are out with little children. How sad.