DEAR ABBY: I was married young to my high school sweetheart. We had five children together. During that time, I joined the Air Force. After six years of marriage, I discovered my wife was cheating on me. Once I realized we couldn't reconcile, I told her I wanted a divorce and custody of the children. She agreed. It cost me my career with the USAF.
Flash-forward to today: Thirty-seven years have passed. I have never said a bad word to my children about their mother. My ex never took the time to build meaningful relationships with them. My oldest daughter once tried to have a relationship with her. A month or so later, she asked, "Dad, why did you ever marry that woman?"
I have just learned from my oldest daughter that her mother is dying and has less than six months to live. My oldest shared the news with her siblings, who had given up on having a mother years ago. She also offered to drive her mom to appointments.
Do you think it would be good for my children to write letters to their mother, expressing their feelings toward her and giving her forgiveness from their point of view? Their ages range from 38 to 43. They are stable, hardworking adults and great parents as well. -- DO-RIGHT DAD IN OHIO
DEAR DAD: You are a thoughtful, caring and forgiving parent. Your children are adults now. You might "suggest" this to them, but do not pressure them into doing anything with which they are uncomfortable. They may not deeply grieve their mother's passing in light of the fact that she left them behind decades ago.
DEAR ABBY: I have a good Christian friend in her 70s who has basically done nothing with her life. Her husband supports her. For 35 years, my friend has been saying, "God will show me what I should do." How can I tell her that God helps those who help themSELVES?
She suffers from bouts of severe depression but will not even choose a hobby because she's waiting on God. Of course, I can't help her to help herself, so I feel at a loss. And it's difficult for me to watch her wait for answers that never come. What advice would you offer? -- FRUSTRATED FRIEND IN GEORGIA
DEAR FRIEND: You stated that this woman is a good friend. If you have offered her suggestions about how to utilize her time and they have been ignored, you may find less frustration if you quit doing that. You cannot "fix" her indecision.
However, when she starts cycling down into another depression, you should urge her to discuss it with her doctor. If she says she's waiting for God to tell her to do that, because God isn't telling her anything directly, explain that God sometimes speaks to us through the people who love us, of which you are one. Hope it will stir her to action, because there is help for those who suffer from depressive illness.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
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Andrews McMeel Syndication