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Nightly dinner with sister is too much togetherness

Staff Writer
Brownwood Bulletin
Jeanne Phillips

DEAR ABBY: I am 25 and live with my parents. My 28-year-old sister lives in a condo about 10 minutes away. She just graduated from school and moved back here, which means she doesn't have many friends in the city.

For the last five months, she has been coming over for dinner like clockwork every day and every weekend. I'm still finding ways to be social during quarantine, but my sister doesn't seem able to find other means to meet people. Seeing this much of her is, well, too much.

She demands attention, practically forces us to entertain her and gets upset when the dinner my parents are cooking doesn't meet her specifications. At her age, spending this much time with your parents seems, quite frankly, unhealthy. I'm scared to bring it up because she's hypersensitive. How do I avoid another several months of lockdown with a person who doesn't even live with me? -- OVERWHELMED IN OREGON

DEAR OVERWHELMED: This isn't a subject you should address with your sister, but is something to discuss privately with your parents. Whether to draw the line and encourage your sister to become less dependent is something they might want to consider.

When her company becomes more than you can handle, excuse yourself, go to your room and avail yourself of your other ways to be social by firing up your computer and visiting with friends. It would also be a kindness for you to suggest ways she, too, can network with people in her field or who have some common interests.

DEAR ABBY: Every day when my husband comes home, he takes off his shoes to relax. He works hard outdoors more than 10 hours daily. His feet smell horrible -- unbearable to be around. We have tried insoles, baking soda, foot sprays and even health checks, which helped but didn't get rid of the problem.

He gets offended when I ask him to change his socks and wash his feet. To him I'm out of line to continually point it out. But I can't even sit in the same room with him. Help! -- STINKING TIRED IN THE SOUTH

DEAR STINKING TIRED: There is a name for your husband's very common medical condition: It's bromodosis, and it is fixable. It's the result of sweat and the growth of bacteria and possibly fungus.

Your husband should discuss this again with his doctor. Directions for treating his condition are also available online, but they are longer than my column can accommodate. Doing a search on healthline.com would be a good place to start. He should also carry an extra pair of shoes and socks and change them in the course of the workday. Let's hope that from now on your husband will put his best foot forward.

DEAR ABBY: I want to donate to organizations that do good work. My question is, where can I find out which charities put all of the donations toward their cause rather than to staff and fundraising? I read years ago that a well-known charity paid an exorbitant salary to the person in charge, who was already wealthy. -- GIVING IN NEW JERSEY

DEAR GIVING: Go online and search Charity Navigator. It's the largest evaluator of charities in the United States and provides reliable data on more than 1.8 million charities and nonprofits. Many people use it to gauge how their contributions will be spent before they donate, and sometimes that information is a real eye-opener.

DEAR ABBY: I grew up in an extremely conservative, rural area of northeast Mississippi in the '60s. I came out as gay to my mom when I was 13 in 1970, and she said three things to me that set the course for a lifetime of love. As she hugged me, she said, "I will always love you, no matter what." Then, looking me straight in the eye, she thanked me for my honesty before again pulling me into her arms and whispering, "I've known since you were a small boy."

I was overwhelmed by her acceptance, not to mention her validating words, and we wept together. Our relationship became so much closer and stronger. I never missed calling her every day of her life. We shared our ups and downs, our dreams, failures and successes. Most of all, we laughed -- a lot.

We traveled together nationally and internationally. And when she became ill, I returned to the small town where I grew up and looked after her until her death at 87. We had a wonderful final six years together.

My mother was obviously before her time. I'm sure many coming-out stories don't end this well, especially in Mississippi during the '60s (or today, for that matter). But it does go to show how well it can be handled and the benefits of handling it properly. Just wanted to share, Abby. -- OUT AND PROUD IN LOUISIANA

DEAR OUT AND PROUD: Thank you for your heartwarming letter, which I am printing today, National Coming Out Day. It brought to mind a letter I published in 2007 from a woman who, to her regret, was very late to accept her gay son. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: My husband and I raised two sons and two daughters. One son and both daughters married well. Our other son, "Neil," is gay. He and his partner, "Ron," have been together 15 years, but Neil's father and I never wanted to know Ron because we disapproved of their lifestyle.

I was 74 when my husband died, leaving me in ill health and nearly penniless. No longer able to live alone, I asked my married son and two daughters if I could "visit" each of them for four months a year. (I didn't want to burden any one family and thought living out of a suitcase would be best for everyone.) All three of them turned me down! Feeling unwanted, I wanted to die.

When Neil and Ron heard what had happened, they invited me to move across the country and live with them. They welcomed me into their home and even removed a wall between two rooms so I'd have a bedroom with a private bath and sitting room -- although we spend most of our time together.

They also include me in many of their plans. Since I moved in with them, I have traveled more than I have my whole life and seen places I only read about in books. They never mention the fact that they are supporting me, or that I ignored them in the past.

When old friends ask how it feels living with my gay son, I tell them I hope they're lucky enough to have one who will take them in one day. Please continue urging your readers to accept their children as they are. My only regret is that I wasted 15 years. -- GRATEFUL MOM

DEAR GRATEFUL MOM: You are indeed fortunate to have such a loving, generous and forgiving son. Thank you for pointing out how important it is that people respect one another for who they are, not for what we would like them to be. Sexual orientation is not a measure of anyone's humanity or worth.

You could have learned that lesson long ago had you and your husband contacted PFLAG when you first learned that Neil was gay. Among other things, the organization offers support groups and education for parents who need to learn more about LGBTQ issues. It can be contacted by going to pflag.org.