DEAR HARRIETTE: I recently had a heart-to-heart with my 80-year-old cousin. She never married but seemed to have a good life. I wanted to know why she never got married. She's attractive. She is smart. She has good manners. I figured she would have had suitors back then who would have loved to be with her.
She told me she had fallen in love when she was in her 20s, but the man didn't want to marry her. Because her heart was with him, she didn't think it would be right to marry somebody else. She teared up a little as she told me, but she said she thought she made the right decision.
I felt really sad for her. I also wondered if I will ever meet "the one." What if I don't find somebody I'm head-over-heels for? Should I stay single forever? -- Spinster in Training, Jersey City, N.J.
DEAR SPINSTER IN TRAINING: Your cousin shared her truth with you. If she wholeheartedly believes that her heart was locked with that man, then she is right to not try to force herself to love someone else. She may not have felt capable of loving someone else fully.
Is that sad? I think so, because it's likely your cousin has a lot of love that she could have shared with someone who would have shared his love with her.
Please remember that you are not your cousin. She told you her story. Now you have to figure out your own.
You will have to assess whether you have found "the one" with whom you can build a life. It's wise to actually write down a list of the character traits you admire in a partner. Be as clear as you can about what inspires and motivates you. Then, as you meet potential suitors, you may have a better chance of noticing someone who is a perfect match for you.
Stop worrying about your cousin's story. She chose to live her life in a particular way. Now it's time for you to make your own choices.
DEAR HARRIETTE: My father died 10 years ago. Every year, my mother wants the family to make a pilgrimage to visit his grave. I rarely go. She is insistent this year because it's the 10th anniversary of his death. I hate cemeteries. Do I have to go? -- Creeped Out, Cincinnati
DEAR CREEPED OUT: Your mother would be thrilled to have you at her side. Participate in the pilgrimage for her sake. And, if you can, share a memory of your father that will make your family remember him with love. They all will appreciate your presence.