Dear Abby: My husband's darling mother died of cancer last summer. During the last month of her illness she was confined to bed, so we hired a nurse, "Lois," to cover the night shift.
The day after the funeral, my husband's father started calling Lois. Dad swore they were "just friends," but continued pursuing her despite our strong disapproval. Two months later, they were dating. Last Thanksgiving, our first holiday without Mom, he canceled plans to be with us and the grandkids to spend it with "friends" -- guess who? On Christmas it was the same story.
This has hit my husband hard. Dad and Mom were married for 50 years. We have always had a close family, particularly at holiday time. Are we wrong to feel that Dad and Lois are disrespecting Mom's memory and to feel hurt and angry?
-- Grieving in Minnesota
Dear Grieving: Please accept my sympathy for your family's loss. While it may appear your father-in-law jumped quickly into a relationship, it could be he grieved during the time his wife was ill and has concerns that his own time may be limited, so he wants to enjoy life while he can.
As to missing the holidays, being there with his wife of 50 years conspicuously missing may have been more than he could face. So please, try to be understanding because I'm sure your mother-in-law's death has been painful for all of you.
Pay it forward with a plant
Dear Abby: After having a stroke, my mother spent the last few years of her life in a wonderful nursing facility. She was an accomplished gardener and enjoyed sharing her bounty. Instead of sending her a fresh flower bouquet for Mother's Day, I'd have some potted tomato plants delivered to her nursing home. On her death bed last year, she reminded us to water her tomato plants. Sadly, those plants outlived her.
I cannot think of a more fitting tribute to her memory than to encourage your readers to provide living vegetable plants for their senior relatives. Most nurseries or florists will accommodate your request and, perhaps, could be persuaded to donate a plant or two to a local senior care center.
The joy of nurturing a living plant will continue through the summer.
-- Carole in San Clemente
Dear Carole: What a sweet idea. Your mother appears to have been a generous and caring woman, and your letter shows the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, Calif. 90069.