Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Reader Wants to Visit Mom, But Not Too Soon

DEAR HARRIETTE: My 90-year-old mother just moved into a retirement community because she could not live on her own anymore. My siblings and I have helped her to make this transition, and it’s going well. She seems to be more active since there are other people around. I live in a different state and feel like I want to go visit her before the summer is out. At the same time, I want to give her space to settle into her new home. Should I wait? She has been in this place now for about a month. -- Missing Mama, Denver

DEAR MISSING MAMA: I bet any and every time you visit your mother, she will be happy to see you. At 90 years old, she is likely in the twilight of her life, so each visit is precious. Ask her if she would like you to come at a particular time and how long it would work for you to stay.

Always honor your mother’s independence, even as she gets frail and in need of support. This will help her maintain her dignity. A visit to her new place could be great for her. As many parents do, she will likely walk you around to meet many of the residents and brag about her child. She will likely be in seventh heaven! Go now to see her, and go back again soon.

Read more in: Family & Parenting | Etiquette & Ethics

DEAR HARRIETTE: I am going to a fancy white party this summer with a group of friends from my hometown. I am excited to go because when I come home to visit in the summer, I usually just hang out with family -- which is nice -- but I don’t go out and socialize.

I learned about this party and bought a cute dress. I was super excited until I learned that my ex will be there. He and I dated all through high school and into college, and then it sort of fizzled out. I have been on my own for a few years now, living my life. It seems weird to run into him again. Things didn’t end so nicely. We were young, and some things were said that were not kind, on both sides. How should I react to him when I see him at this function? Part of me feels like I shouldn’t go anymore. -- Beware Ex, Cincinnati

DEAR BEWARE EX: Time has passed. Trust that you are adult enough to handle this potential encounter. If you see him, make eye contact, smile and walk over to greet him. Be kind and cordial. Ask how he’s doing. You can leave the conversation very casual. If it seems, however, that the encounter is becoming awkward and emotional, you can also say to him that you are sorry that things turned out the way they did years ago. You were both young, but still you know you were not kind to him. Tell him you hope he is having a good life. Tell him that you are doing well, and move on. That’s all you can do.

(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 | Love & Dating | Etiquette & Ethics