Dear Annie: When I married back in the '60s, I was a workaholic. I had little time for family, and after 14 years, my marriage ended in a very bitter divorce. The real victims of this split were our two children, "Gary" and "Sue."
After the divorce, I seldom saw either of my children outside of special occasions and holidays. My ex-wife dealt with being a single parent by climbing inside a bottle. When Gary was 15, he attempted suicide. Things were miserable.
Over the years, Sue, now age 35, has grown closer, but my relationship with Gary is still tentative. Five years ago, he wrote me a disturbing letter saying he was tired of me running his life, although I can't imagine why he thought so since I rarely saw him. A few months after that, Sue told me Gary had stopped returning her calls. We then discovered Gary had broken off relationships with his entire family, including his mother and grandparents.
Recently, Sue made contact with Gary and learned he has been married for several years. She told me he seemed very angry and extremely self-involved. She also said he believes he knows everything, to the point where he seemed delusional. Sue said the only thing holding him together is his wife, "Sara," a nurturing type.
Gary has a pilot's license, and I am scared to death that he might attempt suicide again. I think he should be examined by a mental health expert. Yes, I know it sounds as if I am meddling, but Gary has a son (my grandson) whom he frequently flies with. I fear for the child's safety. Panicked in Pittsburgh
Dear Panicked: We understand your concern, but you might not know Gary well enough these days to make any assumptions about his mental health. The fact that he is distant and self-involved does not mean he is suicidal.
The best thing you can do is maintain some kind of contact, even if that means the conduit is Sue and she talks mostly to Sara. At least you will be kept abreast of the situation, and it will enable you to attempt to reconnect with your son.
Dear Annie: My best friend leaves the price tag on all the gifts she gives me, with the excuse that she wants me to be able to take the items back if they don't fit or I don't like them. I was raised to remove price tags before giving a gift. Which is proper etiquette? Baffled Friend
Dear Friend: It is proper to remove anything that mentions the cost of an item given as a gift. If requested, most stores happily provide gift receipts, which enable the recipient to return the item without revealing the price. Either your friend is uninformed or she wants you to know exactly how much she spent. It's your call what you want to do about it. We say, consider it a quirk and ignore it.
Dear Annie: This is in response to the letter from "Kingston, N.Y.," who was diagnosed with an intestinal parasite. Ten years ago, I was diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome. The symptoms became so severe that nothing could control the diarrhea. Finally, my family doctor suggested I be tested for parasites, and he was astounded to find three different kinds in my system. He thought I had traveled to third-world countries. One week of treatment cured me completely.
I have never been to a foreign country and do not know where I picked up these critters. Thanks for writing about this. Torrance, Calif.
Dear Torrance: We spoke with Dr. Marshall Sparberg, an expert at Northwestern University Medical School in Chicago. Dr. Sparberg says the most common indication of a parasitic infection is diarrhea. He also said a stool analysis in a good lab is essential to properly diagnose the problem. Anyone concerned should see an internist or a gastroenterologist.
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