DEAR HARRIETTE: My parents broke up when I was a little kid. At first my dad would come around once or twice a month to see us, but after a few years, he hardly ever showed up.
I am now an adult. I live and work on my own, and my life is pretty good. I am about to get married, and I want to reconcile with my dad. I want him to be at my wedding and to be a part of my new life. I have contacted him, and he says he will come.
When I told my mother, she was upset. She says he hasn’t been in my life for anything, including paying child support. She can’t believe I want to have anything to do with him. How can I get her to understand that this is important to me? -- Reconciliation
DEAR RECONCILIATION: Your mother has a point. Beyond your father’s failings during your youth, which are sizeable, there is also the question as to where he stands today and whether he is ready, willing or able to be part of your life now. Just because you want this doesn’t mean it is going to happen.
Before your wedding, request a meeting with your father to have a heart-to-heart talk. If you are able to meet with him, tell him you want to listen and understand why he wasn’t there for you as a child. Explain that you want nothing more than for him to be in your life now, but you need assurances that he wants to build a relationship with you, too. Give yourself time to meet with him on a few occasions so that you can get to know each other as adults.
Figure out if you even want to have your father in your new life. If so, talk to your mother and let her know what you have done to begin to build a rapport with him. Ask for her blessing for you to make this effort.
DEAR HARRIETTE: So many people keep dying around me. I’m getting depressed. The old people are understandable, even though it’s sad, but recently several people who are my age, mid-50s, have come down with all kinds of diseases and are dying. I know that people get ill at all ages, but it’s hard for me to watch my friends slip away. How can I deal with so much death and stay positive? -- Death Toll
DEAR DEATH TOLL: Start by getting a complete physical so that you have an assessment of your own health. If there are any concerns that you need to attend to, focus on them now.
Next, take a good look at your life and the people who are still living who matter to you. Be conscious and intentional as you make your list. Then reach out to one of them for a call; try to schedule a meal, a visit or some other engagement with someone every week. If you continue to think about your loved ones who are alive, you may be able to stay positive through these difficult times.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)