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Abby: Vacation tradition changes after mom’s passing

Dear Abby
Jeanne Phillips

Dear Abby: Every summer, my husband and I, our two boys and my parents would take several vacations at Mom and Dad’s lake home. This is where Dad grew up and where we spent countless vacations as children. It holds much sentimental value to us all. We were lucky enough to have our own space upstairs and were free to enjoy the home as if it was ours. We always contributed to groceries and cleaning before we left, and it was very enjoyable for everyone.

My mother passed away last year after a long battle with a debilitating disease. Dad is planning to retire soon and move permanently to the lake home, which is about seven hours away. However, he has found a girlfriend he has become close to, and upon retiring, he plans to have her move in with him.

I am thrilled that Dad has found someone, but I’m left wondering how to handle visits to our beloved vacation spot once Dad’s new lady moves in. He insists we visit as we naturally would, which usually means staying several nights as it is quite far away. We don’t know Dad’s lady very well yet, and I’m feeling awkward about visiting. Do we continue to treat this as we once did, like it is partly ours? What’s proper etiquette here?

— Thrown In South Dakota

Dear Thrown: Your father has made it plain that he would like you to visit “as you naturally would.” Because you are feeling awkward, this is something you should discuss with him, if only to make sure he will be able to welcome you as he has in the past. It would not be a breach of etiquette to level with him about what’s on your mind. Once you start going there and interacting, you will get to know his lady friend, and she will get to know you and that should break the ice.

Dear Abby: I’m the youngest of five, and all of us are successful in our own ways — except for our middle youngest sibling. She dropped out of college, had a bad breakup with a married man and has given up all hope and efforts to live a normal life.

She’s 34, refuses to work and still lives with our parents. She trashed the vehicle our father bought and paid for, and walks around the house talking to herself, which I believe is for attention because I have had serious conversations with her. I’ve tried several times to be a sympathetic ear and encouraged her to find a job, but it’s not working.

What can we do to help her get a job and move? She’s a burden on our family, and it’s depressing to have her present for family events she doesn’t dress for or make an effort to receive other family members. If this continues, I’m scared of what may happen after our parents pass. What can be done for an adult who refuses to grow up and move on?

— Hopeless In Georgia

Dear Hopeless: I have another idea why your sister walks around the house talking to herself and can’t motivate herself to be independent. She may be severely depressed or suffering from other mental problems. Talk to your parents and tell them they are not helping her by ignoring the fact that she isn’t functional. They need to insist that, as a condition of staying with them, she talk to a mental health professional.

Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.