DEAR ABBY: I am 33, married and the father of three children. I was adopted at three weeks of age and never felt the need to search for my "roots" or "identity" like many others do.
About five years ago, I received a letter from my birth mother, and we have met a few times. Although she and her family are nice people, and want to continue a relationship -- I do not. I have hinted about the way I feel, but they don't seem to understand. I want to tell them outright, but my wife says I will hurt their feelings, and I should leave "the door open" in case I change my mind. I am sure of my feelings and disagree with my wife.
I learned that my birth mother was going through a bitter divorce while she was pregnant with me. Money was scarce and she felt she could not afford a third child. She later remarried -- as did my birth father. I met him once, and he has been more considerate of my feelings. He respects my privacy.
My birth mother is kind and generous. She always remembers my children on birthdays and holidays. Abby, how can I cut off contact with her without being cruel? -- TIRED OF FAMILY TIES
DEAR TIRED: You have a right to your feelings. Do not feel guilty. Tell your birth mother how much you appreciate her kindness, but you are not ready to have a relationship with her now.
P.S. Ask her for your biological family's medical history.
DEAR ABBY: This is for "Missing Dad in South Carolina," the lady who lost her dad 10 years ago and is still grieving.
My beloved sister died suddenly two years ago. She was 91 and still enjoyed baking bread and cookies. Sis took great delight in sharing her goodies with friends and shut-ins. She also enjoyed delivering flowers from her garden to people in hospitals and nursing homes.
Instead of grieving for her -- and I miss her terribly -- I try to follow her example by doing the things she did. Not only do people love to receive, it gives me great joy, as well. Sign me ... BUSY BAKING, WEST ST. PAUL, MINN.
DEAR BUSY BAKING: You have discovered a healthy, constructive way to manage your grief. Thank you for sharing it with my readers. Just as sadness feeds upon itself, so does joy.
DEAR ABBY: The following should be added to the Code of Conduct for children's sporting events you printed recently:
(15) Win with modesty -- and lose with dignity.
It's a pity some of our professional athletes don't follow that rule. They embarrass me. -- LEONARD IN WHITING, N.J.
DEAR LEONARD: You're not alone. They embarrass themselves, too. Even more important, they are terrible role models for children who are looking for heroes.
DEAR ABBY: The letter I am enclosing with mine was written to you in March 2000 by my daughter, Kelsey Leigh Holland. She never mailed it. Kelsey died in her sleep of respiratory failure on Dec. 29, 2000. She was only 13.
"DEAR ABBY: My mother is a workaholic. She works at work, at home, after dinner and after all hours. She never has any fun. I'm afraid she's on the verge of a nervous breakdown -- if not already over the edge.
"I've talked to her, so have my brother and my father. How do I send the message to Mom that life is not just paperwork and deadlines, but fun and happiness? Signed ... OUT OF IDEAS"
Oh, how I wish I could change the past and spend less time working, volunteering, etc., and more time with Kelsey! But that's impossible. What I can do is be a better mother to my son, and pass along my daughter's message to your readers.
Parents, PLEASE spend more time with your children. Listen to them, share with them, teach them. Every moment of life is precious and we truly don't know how much time we have left.
Thank you, Abby, for listening. I wish I had listened before it was too late to spend more time with Kelsey. -- LORI HOLLAND, RIVERSIDE, CALIF.
DEAR LORI: Please accept my deepest sympathy for the tragic loss of your daughter. I'm printing your message as a reminder to other parents. The working world can be extremely demanding -- and often there are not enough hours in the day to do what needs to be done. But children are young only once, and they are with us for such a little while.
Readers, the tragedy that has befallen this mother may never happen to the vast majority of you -- but in life, there are no guarantees. I could lecture for paragraphs, but I think you get the message.
DEAR ABBY: Because you sometimes print letters about acts of kindness, I would like to tell you how three guardian angels came to my aid this past winter.
I was traveling from New Orleans to visit my boyfriend in Dubuque, Iowa, when my connecting flight from Chicago was canceled. Another flight that day was unlikely because of bad weather.
In line at the ticket counter, I overheard two women talking. They were also going to Dubuque. I asked what they intended to do about reaching their destination. They introduced themselves as Mary Ann and Monica, and showed me a bus schedule they had gotten. After some negotiating, we managed to purchase tickets on a bus that would take us as far as Rockford, Ill., where Mary Ann's husband would pick us up. The women stayed with me the entire time and reassured me that everything would work out.
After a short wait in Rockford, Mary Ann's husband, Jim, arrived in the pouring rain and drove us safely to Dubuque, dropping me off at the door of my boyfriend's dorm. I tried to give him $10 for his trouble, but he refused it. All three of them waited in the car until they saw that I was safely inside.
Jim, Mary Ann and Monica, thank you. I will never forget your kindness. -- KATIE IN NEW ORLEANS
DEAR KATIE: I'm sure you won't. Your guardian angels literally went the extra mile -- and many more -- for you.
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