DEAR MISS MANNERS: After about two years of dealing with my father-in-law's dementia and other old-age issues, trying to keep him in his home (by hiring a cook, housekeeper, etc.), my husband and I moved him to an assisted-living facility where he was very familiar with the staff and many residents. He at times said he knows he needs to be there.
We've put much time and energy into this process, including talking with his family doctor and friends and other people in the community in order to do all this in the most humane, dignified and safest way possible. We make a 16-hour round-trip monthly visit to try to give him personal attention as well as deal with his property and business affairs.
I feel satisfied with how we've done this, and only hope we get such treatment when we're in our 80s.
The support and kindness of his community has been one of the positive things to come out of this messy situation. However, a few people continue to offer unasked-for critiques of what we have done wrong and what we should have done. The worst is when we're told that we should have kept him at home and that the speaker would have done this, especially when the speaker doesn't know we did try to keep him at home.
Obviously, the thing to do is to just let it go and recognize that I cannot teach these people manners, much less empathy. But it does hurt and I have to admit I'd like to express this. I find myself thinking, "I know Miss Manners would have just the perfect response." Do you?
GENTLE READER: "I know; it was painful for us to realize he needs more care than we were able to provide. You are kind to take an interest. And you are so right that being in a home atmosphere is comforting. If you were to invite him to stay with you for a few days now and then, I'm sure it would be good for him."
DEAR MISS MANNERS: In my third year of law school, I have encountered a potential etiquette problem with an upcoming class. The class' professor is also a local attorney and, presently, an interim judge. Inside the classroom (as well as outside the classroom), how should I refer to the man: as Professor or as Your Honor?
In the past, other students have gotten around the quandary by calling him nothing at all, and although I find that rude, I don't want to commit a horrible error with a judge I will probably appear before in the future.
GENTLE READER: Context is important, as Miss Manners is sure you have learned in studying case histories. In the context of the class, your professor's title is "professor." When you appear before him in court, preferably in a professional capacity, but however you may find yourself facing him, the title to use is "Your Honor."