DEAR HARRIETTE: I went home for a family reunion last month, and it was so much fun. The one thing that was hard was seeing my grandfather. He is so frail. I hardly ever talk to him, and now I realize that he probably won’t be alive much longer. I want to be closer to him during the time he has left. Practically speaking, we live far from each other and he’s hard of hearing, so it doesn’t work well to talk on the phone for more than a couple of minutes. What can I do to let him know how much I love him and to stay in touch? -- Coming Together, Chicago
DEAR COMING TOGETHER: If you took pictures during the reunion, send a few to your grandfather with a handwritten note telling him how much you enjoyed being together and how much you love him. Call him once a week to check in. Make the call brief. Speak up. Make sure he knows it is you. Tell him one good thing about you and your life that he can hold onto and brag about. Older people love to tell stories about their families.
Additionally, make the commitment to visit your grandfather more frequently. If possible, go home once a quarter during this tender time. If you can do it, you and your grandfather will benefit immeasurably.