DEAR ABBY: I think you were a bit harsh regarding the mother-in-law of Forgotten in Idaho. You called her flawed and self-centered because she has refused to visit her son and his family during the last five years. (Apparently she went once, while her husband was still living.)
Im 73, and cant travel comfortably for a number of physical reasons I dont care to share with my children. I also have a full life with my friends, volunteer work, plus e-mails and phone contact with all of my four children, six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
Being with a large group even family for more than a few hours, especially after a tiring trip, takes a physical toll on me. I never seem able to take my medicines on time.
I dont feel Im selfish, nor do my children, if I dont choose to visit them at their homes. They visit me when they can, and we always have a good time. I accept them and their chosen lifestyles; they accept my preferences without my having to give them a detailed explanation.
You were wrong to call the woman self-centered and flawed. Perhaps its the son and daughter-in-law who are selfish and self-centered to expect his mother to conform to their wishes. Ill bet you get quite a few women challenging your answer.
DEAR LEE: Youre right. I got blasted. Not only have I been flogged with wet noodles, Im drenched in marinara sauce. Heres a taste:
DEAR ABBY: Flawed? Flawed because she doesnt care to make trips to Idaho? That lady has a life of her own, for crying out loud. Let her live it! If shes like most women our age, its the first time in her life she comes first instead of the kids. Apparently shes active and healthy. She certainly isnt flawed, as you assert.
Im just short of 75, and let me tell you, about 2 1/2 hours with the little ones and Im ready to go home. I am not alone in that feeling, and none of us consider ourselves flawed. Bad choice of words, my dear.
ANN F., JOLIET, ILL.
DEAR ABBY: You owe that senior an apology for the harsh criticism when she did nothing wrong. Many single women her age are demanding of their children. They should be proud and happy she is doing well and enjoying what could be the last 10 years of her life. Grandmotherly feelings come in our 40s and 50s. By our 70s, we have great-grandchildren and, trust me, enjoying them from afar is sufficient. Nature meant those final years to finally bring some enjoyment in life from OUR choice of recreation not our childrens. If not now, when?
DEAR ABBY: I can relate to that mother-in-law because we have a similar problem. The real reason we dont visit our four grandchildren often is because they are undisciplined and have never been taught the difference between acceptable and unacceptable behavior. Its stressful and exhausting to be around them. Please remind parents that relatives do not want to be around undisciplined and poorly behaved children.