Dear Annie: Finding topics of conversation can often be difficult during long visits. Since "Grinding My Teeth" feels that this may be the last time she and her husband will visit with these in-laws, why not take this opportunity to encourage these people to talk about their lives?
When they arrive, ask the in-laws if they would be willing to talk about memories from their younger years. The internet is full of suggestions of questions that will stimulate memories, so do a bit of research and type up a sheet of questions, maybe 30 or so, enough to have a question for each day. Everyone who has lived on this planet for a number of years has many stories to tell.
Too often we never get around to asking the meaningful questions before it is too late. Writing this letter has inspired me to write up a sheet of questions I now wish I had readily available when my difficult mother-in-law would visit my family for 6 months at a time. — Curious About Peoples' Pasts
Dear Curious About Peoples' Pasts: I love the suggestion of turning something that could seem like a chore into a learning experience. We are never too old to learn new things and in listening to peoples' stories we can learn a great deal about them in the present. What a beautiful suggestion.
Dear Annie: I am 65 and a retired attorney, and I read your column every day in our local paper. I like history, ancient primary source history, financial philosophers, martial arts, healing through natural medicine, and studying anything and everything that piques my metaphysical curiosity.
Your column regarding the man whose wife asked everyone for advice on everything was extremely prescient and had profound personal resonance. I, too, have a wife who asks everyone everything. She asks the sales clerk in the store: "Should I buy it? Does it look good on me?"
And I, too, have a wife who was an abused child of an alcoholic parent and has low self-esteem. After 40 years of marriage, I am learning to give my wife the love and understanding she deserves.
And in your column about the mom with multiple sclerosis, your advice was spot on.
And, even though I have read more books than were contained in the long-destroyed Library of Alexandria, my social skills are not always on par with my intellect.
I enjoy your column and most often concur with it because you reveal good judgment and wisdom.
Nowadays, people are quick to criticize from the anonymity of the internet. They destroy good people and businesses for minor faux pas and fail to live by the Golden Rule.
I figured you could use some admiration and commendation. You are wise beyond your years. Keep on being the counselor you are, like a wise uncle or aunt. — A Big Fan
Dear Big Fan: Your letter makes me feel so good! A million thanks for taking the time to write.
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