DEAR ABBY: I have been dating "James" for almost a year. Things have been rough for him recently. His depression has led to school attendance issues, but we got through it.
The problem is James' mother. She's well meaning, and she has always been incredibly sweet to me, but she has started texting and questioning me about how I am doing, regarding her son and the "trials" he brings to our relationship (or her perception of them). I appreciate her concern, but it makes me very uncomfortable.
Perhaps she asks out of concern for me, but it seems like she's trying to speak on his behalf or defend him somehow, which makes me feel awful. How can I explain to her that something which is meant to be as simple as "Are you doing OK?" is hurting me? -- TWISTED UP
DEAR TWISTED UP: If James' depression is severe enough that it is interfering with his education, his mother has a right to be concerned. She may be trying to assess its severity by reaching out to you. On the other hand, "How are you doing?" can be classified as an innocent question.
Because you are uncomfortable with the way these conversations are going, respond that you are fine and ask her how SHE is doing. You do not have to engage in conversations with anyone who makes you uncomfortable, and if someone ventures into sensitive territory, you have every right to say you prefer not to discuss it and change the subject. If she wants information about her son, the person she should be asking is him.
DEAR ABBY: My husband is still working, although he will retire in a few years. We have been in our home since 1987. It is comfortable, but it's too big for us and too much work now. Our grandkids live four hours away, and we are thinking about moving near them. My son's in-laws have already relocated from New York.
I am having terrible anxiety about leaving my home and our large lot, which is covered with beautiful trees in all seasons. We have looked at "over-55" communities, and the yards are small and treeless. I love my trees – especially the magnolia my husband and sons planted many years ago. I also adore seeing all the birds and wildlife.
How do other relocators handle the move? I know I should focus on the positive aspects, such as getting rid of our clutter and being near the grands, but I'm having trouble with this. Help, please. -- GETTING READY IN GEORGIA
DEAR GETTING READY: I'm glad you wrote now, because you have lots of time to plan the move you are considering. If what you will miss the most about your home is the trees, perhaps the over-55 communities in the area to which you are relocating are not for you. Take some time, talk with a real estate agent and explore what smaller homes might be right for you. However, if an over-55 community is a must, perhaps you can find one that's near a park where you can go and enjoy the trees and wildlife.
As to the memories you will leave behind, you will always have them to look back on, and you will be creating new ones every day.
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.