Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Reader Questions 90-Year-Old Mother's Diet

DEAR HARRIETTE: I recently noticed that my 90-year-old mother eats a lot of sweets. Specifically, she eats dessert every single day. She has even been asking my niece to buy cookies for her on a regular basis. This made me a little nervous. Diabetes runs in my family. Though she doesn’t have it, I feel like eating sweets every day can’t be good for her body.

My sister, who is the one primarily in charge of making sure my mother is OK and who lives nearby, told me to lay off. She said my mother’s doctor said she can eat whatever she wants. She is not diabetic. She is not overweight, and she is 90. She has earned the privilege of eating what she wants. Should I stop harping on this? I don’t live in the same town, so I don’t know everything that’s going on, but I also don’t want my mother to get sick in her old age. -- Hawkish, Boston

DEAR HAWKISH: Since you do not live in your mother’s town, you really do not know what’s happening on a daily basis. You need to trust your sister. You can absolutely ask her to give you updates on your mother’s health. Speak directly to her about your concerns about diabetes. The reality, though, is that your mother has lived for 90 years. If she is in relatively good health, this is a huge blessing. Don’t make the mistake of inserting yourself in her health management where it isn’t necessary. Daily dessert as part of a balanced diet may be just fine. Excess sugar and salt are things to worry about.

Read more in: Family & Parenting | Health & Safety

Former Friend Rants About Reader

DEAR HARRIETTE: I had a huge argument with a woman who used to be a very close friend. I stopped hanging out with her a few years ago because she was growing increasingly more negative, talking badly about everyone in our friend circle. I ended up speaking to her the other day, and it was awful. She went on a rant about me, telling me all the reasons why I am a horrible person. She dredged up stories from my past that only a good friend would know, and she used them against me. I felt horrible. I admit that I have made some mistakes in my life, but this woman is not St. Peter or Jesus. I feel like she overstepped her bounds by chewing me out the way she did. Should I say anything else? In the moment, I told her that I was sorry if I ever hurt her or anyone else, but I was done talking about it. My fear is that she is blabbing this old stuff to anybody who will listen. Do I confront her? -- Stop It, Richmond, Virginia

DEAR STOP IT: The best thing you can do is walk away. Your angry former friend is stuck in the past. There is nothing you can do to lure her into the future. For whatever reason, she feels she has power by holding your past indiscretions over your head. Since you cannot control what she says or to whom, let it go. Live your life honorably. If you are confronted by others about what she has said, respond on a case-by-case basis. You do not have to explain yourself to people. Live your life.

(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)

Read more in: Friends & Neighbors | Abuse | Etiquette & Ethics