Dear Abby

San Francisco Chronicle (Sunday) - - SUNDAY DATEBOOK | CONTENTS - By Jeanne Phillips Write to Dear Ab by at www. Dear Ab by. com or P.O.Box69440, LosAngeles,CA90069. An­drewsMcMee­l Syndicatio­n

Dear Abby: my hus­band and I have been to­gether since we were 21, and he has al­ways had a dis­tant re­la­tion­ship with his par­ents. I en­cour­aged him dur­ing the first few years of our mar­riage to call them and visit. I stopped do­ing that af­ter his mom and I had some choice words.

If he wants a re­la­tion­ship with them, that is up to him. The prob­lem is, when she tries to call and text with typ­i­cally no re­sponse from him, she reaches out to me. We have two daugh­ters, so I don’t mind shar­ing with her how they are do­ing. What I ob­ject to is her oc­ca­sion­ally ask­ing me to pass on mes­sages to my hus­band. I’m a work­ing mom of two, and I don’t have time to be any­one else’s sec­re­tary. The ic­ing on the cake came when she in­formed me that the fam­ily dog they’d had for 15 years passed away and asked me to tell him. I told her what time he could be reached, but in­stead of tak­ing my sug­ges­tion, she asked me again. I ended up telling him.

It wasn’t my re­spon­si­bil­ity to do that, and I’m ir­ri­tated with my­self that I can’t be frank about how she and his dad need to con­tact their son. Any sug­ges­tions would be help­ful. — find­ing a Back­bone in

Penn­syl­va­nia Dear Find­ing: It may take courage, but the next time your mother-in-law tries to make you her mes­sen­ger, tell her that what she’s ask­ing makes you un­com­fort­able and that she needs to con­vey the in­for­ma­tion her­self — by ei­ther tex­ting her son or email­ing. If, af­ter that, she says she can’t get through to him, point out that you no longer want to be in the mid­dle. Pe­riod. And let your hus­band know what you’ve done.

Will this en­dear you to her? Def­i­nitely not. But the in­di­vid­u­als who need to heal the re­la­tion­ship be­tween your hus­band’s par­ents and their son are the three of them, not you.

Dear Abby: my par­ents met when they were 14. They mar­ried at 18, raised four boys and had an in­cred­i­ble mar­riage. When mom was di­ag­nosed with Alzheimer’s, they car­ried on as best they could with Dad pro­vid­ing her care. Sadly, Dad was di­ag­nosed with ter­mi­nal lung can­cer, so they moved in with me, and I quit work­ing to care for them. Dad died three months later. Ob­vi­ously, mom was dev­as­tated in ad­di­tion to be­ing con­fused about why Dad was no longer there.

mom and I of­ten took walks through my neigh­bor­hood, and at one house in par­tic­u­lar she would com­ment on the pretty flow­ers in the yard and how she and Dad en­joyed plant­ing flow­ers ev­ery year. No mat­ter how ag­i­tated or up­set she was, see­ing that neigh­bor’s yard would cheer her up and bring back fond mem­o­ries for her. mom died a few years later.

I wrote a note to the per­son who lived at the prop­erty — whom I never had met — telling her how much joy her flow­ers had brought to mom and thank­ing her for mak­ing my mother’s fi­nal days brighter. Abby, I am writ­ing now to share that even in the dark­est times, a lit­tle beauty can make a world of dif­fer­ence.

— grate­ful Son in Ari­zona Dear Grate­ful Son: What you have writ­ten is true. mu­sic can have the same ef­fect on pa­tients with Alzheimer’s disease. my mother had Alzheimer’s for many years, and my brother and I pro­vided her with mu­sic from her era — Pearl Bai­ley, the An­drews Sis­ters, etc. — to help her pass the time. To­ward the end, singing a song from her youth to her brought her back to me for a pre­cious mo­ment, and it, too, made a world of dif­fer­ence. Thank you for your let­ter and for tak­ing me on my own trip down mem­ory lane.

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