DEAR ABBY: My 29-year-old brother died suddenly last month. It was completely unexpected. He left behind a wife and 1-year-old son.
Although they lived across the country, she allowed us to bring him home for his funeral and burial. I took care of a lot of the arrangements on this end, while she took care of things there and made travel arrangements.
At 26, I never expected to be planning a funeral! But it has made me realize how unprepared I was for any unforeseen event. Please remind your young readers that it's never too early to take care of some basic plans, including a will. As a single mother, I know how unprepared I was if something should happen to me. While it's not a pleasant thought, it's tougher on the survivors if nothing is in place. When it comes to mortality, it's better to be practical and prepared. -- STILL GRIEVING, BUT NOW PREPARED
DEAR STILL GRIEVING: Please accept my sympathy for the untimely loss of your brother. I can only imagine how shocking this has been for your family.
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Mortality isn't a subject that younger people usually dwell on. But if they want what they have to be distributed according to their wishes, or if there are children involved, it's important to put their wishes in writing regardless of their age.
Readers: This includes what you would or would not like done if you can't speak for yourself. Do you want to be on artificial life support if there is no hope for your recovery? How do you feel about becoming an organ donor? Put it in writing!
I read recently about a young woman whose family learned only after her tragic death that she wanted to be an organ donor. Fortunately, they found out BEFORE the funeral.
DEAR ABBY: "Don" and I have been married for 44 years, and our marriage has had its ups and downs. We are now both retired. The problem is that Don does not get along with our 43-year-old son, "Chris." (He gets along fine with our two daughters.)
Don and Chris have very different personalities and little in common. Chris lives abroad but visits frequently and stays with us. During his most recent visit, his father was distant and rude to him. It has happened before and is hurtful to Chris and to me.
I have tried speaking with my husband about it, but he never has a good reason for his behavior. When my mother heard what happened, she got angry and said if I don't divorce Don, she doesn't want to see either of us again. Please help me. I don't know what to do. -- HURT BADLY IN OREGON
DEAR HURT BADLY: After 40 years of marriage, you should have learned by now not to confide your problems in your mother. That your husband seems incapable of tolerating his son because of "personality differences" is regrettable, but hardly a cause for divorce at this point.
If Chris stayed in a hotel during his visits rather than your home, it would provide less opportunity for confrontation, and you both might enjoy the visits more. I hope you will consider it.
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 www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
To receive a collection of Abby's most memorable -- and most frequently requested -- poems and essays, send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $7 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Keepers Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. Shipping and handling are included in the price.