Living in Dread
Dear Margo: Since my father died eight years ago, I have become increasingly close to my mom. She is 81; I am 49. We have become best friends and do almost everything together. We spend a good deal of time together every day and call each other when we’re apart. I work as a freelancer, so my work hours are flexible, and I spend virtually all of my free time with Mom. Over the years, I have come to appreciate her as a woman and a friend.
While I am very happy with this arrangement, I am afraid of the future. I have no close friends; my work is satisfying, but random; and I dread the day when I find myself alone. Given my mom’s age, I know she will not be with me forever — and I can’t stand the thought of her dying. It’s to the point where I have trouble sleeping and have nightmares of her being gone when I do fall asleep. I hate saying goodnight each evening for fear of being away from her. She feels the same way and tells me I’m the best daughter she ever could have hoped for.
I know life goes on, but I don’t know how I will adjust and reconcile myself to my mom not being there. I’m usually an upbeat, positive person, but I don’t know how to cope with this tremendous fear of impending loss. — Fearing the Future
Dear Fear: By my reckoning, you are almost 50 years old with no friends except for an aging mother. While it is lovely that you have come to appreciate her and love spending time together, there is something a little off about your insulation, along with your fear of the inevitable. Forgive me, but yours is a neurotic, immature approach to realism, and I would suggest for your mental health, both now and “after,” that you see a therapist who could be useful in getting you on a healthier, less troubled emotional track. — Margo, conventionally
Dear Margo: My husband and I are having a difference of opinion, and I wondered whether you could help us out. We are planning a vacation this summer with our 18-year-old daughter, our family friend of 32 years and his 17-year-old daughter. The plan is to share the cost of a cabin, but each family would pay for their own food and entertainment.
Now there is a possibility that our friend will not be able to come, in which case we would pay the entire cabin cost, but I suggested we still have his daughter come. My husband says if we invite her, then we should be responsible for paying for all of her food and entertainment. I think it would be appropriate to ask her dad to send funds with her to pay for the things that we were planning to do if he were going to be there. Can you tell me what the proper etiquette is for this situation? — Summer Planner
Dear Sum: I think your issue is not so much about etiquette as it is about common sense and hospitality. Since the young woman would be a pal for your daughter, and should she show up unaccompanied, I think the proper thing is for your family to pay for her food and entertainment. She is, after all, one person. There is a chance that the friend may, in fact, show up, but should he not, my bet is that he will send his daughter with funds. If she offers to pay her own way for some things, that could be an on-the-spot decision based on what you think would make her feel more at ease. — Margo, comfortably
Dear Margo is written by Margo Howard, Ann Landers’ daughter. All letters must be sent via the online form at www.creators.com/dearmargo. Due to a high volume of e-mail, not all letters will be answered.
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