Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Reader Wants to Connect With Ailing Grandfather

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.

Read more in: Family & Parenting | Death | Holidays & Celebrations

Reader and Boyfriend Disagree About Morning Routine

DEAR HARRIETTE: I am dating a man who hates watching the news. Meanwhile, I am a news junkie. He has started to stay over at my house sometimes, and in the morning, this is becoming an issue. I like to watch the morning cable programs, and he likes to listen to music. I am willing to have him turn on music in the living room, but I like to watch the news while I prepare breakfast. This is my routine. Should I change to his routine? How do I manage this? I really want to spend time with him, but I have my rhythm. -- Bumping Heads, Shreveport, Louisiana

DEAR BUMPING HEADS: In the interest of the relationship, I recommend that you agree to turn off the TV and the music during the time that you are in the kitchen together. Offer silence -- outside of your own conversation -- as a compromise, and see what your boyfriend says.

Add that each of you can have your personal routines for a particular amount of time in the morning. Maybe he can listen to his music while he’s showering and getting ready for work. Perhaps you can watch your morning shows while he’s in the bathroom or, if you have a TV in that room, you can watch as you get ready.

You can also agree that you will watch one full cycle of cable news but turn it off after you have heard the pundits and gotten caught up on the news of the day. It won’t be easy to break with your ways of doing things. You two will have to decide if the relationship is worth the shift.

(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: Love & Dating | Etiquette & Ethics | Miscellaneous