Dear Amy: I’m a single dad. For the past six months, I have met a wonderful woman.
I’m 45 and she’s 41. She does not have children herself, but is very close to her brother and two sisters and her young nieces.
They are a very close family. They meet on Sunday.
The problem is that her father is a chronic smoker. He smokes in the house to the point where you can not breathe and I have been left and gasp for air.
I have stopped going over to the house and will not take my own children there. She is well aware of why I do not visit this house and her parents ask where I am and why they never see me.
This causes so much stress between us, as well as some fights.
I was told that it is not an option to talk to his father and ask him to quit smoking.
What to do?
– Non-smoking father
Dear father: No, do not ask this man to quit smoking. It’s his life, his house, and his addiction.
A very simple explanation for why you can not visit this home is that you react severely when you are exposed to smoke, or remnants of it.
If this family had a couple of cats and you were allergic to dandruff, you should make a similar choice. One would not ask them to part with their cats, but one should very sensibly keep a distance from the house.
None of this precludes you from staying close to this family. You could picnic together, go for walks, invite them to your home and take her nieces and your children on excursions together.
If your friend pushes you to spend time in an environment that makes you suffer, how good a friend is she then to you?
This is something you should think about as you two continue to figure this out.
Dear Amy: “Teacher in a Quandary” reached out regarding a rare collection of items left behind by one of her students.
I graduated from high school in 1998.
Many years ago, while learning about World War II in my 11th grade history class in the United States, my grandfather, a veteran of that war, gave me several priceless items from his time serving his country.
I chose to take these things into school to share with my teacher and classmates, and unfortunately I failed to bring them home. For many years, my family asked about these things, and I carried a lot of guilt with me for my lack of responsibility for such an important part of the story and my grandfather’s story.
A few years ago, the high school I was attending began a major renovation that caused many teachers to move from classrooms they had been teaching for decades.
One evening I was waiting for a hallway outside my young daughter’s classroom, and my American history teacher walked by.
I asked him about the long-lost items and he asked me to wait a few minutes.
When he returned, he had with him all the things I had left in his classroom almost 20 years before! He had kept them for many years and waited for me to come back to claim them.
When he cleared his classroom out for the move, he found them in the back of a closet and kept them in the hope that one day they would come back to my family.
My eyes fill with tears as I write this, years later, and I can never thank him enough for keeping them safe.
I encourage “Teacher” to do everything she can to find the student or family member who rightfully owns these items.
– Lesson learned
Dear lesson: I’m happy to publish your reunion story in the hopes that it will inspire “Teacher in a Dilemma” to make a greater effort to connect these heirlooms with their owners.
Dear Amy: I would love to have my nieces and nephews in my life.
When I was in my 20s, I got HIV. I fell ill in 1979 and was diagnosed in 1983.
I withdrew because I was told I was going to die in a few years.
Now I’m 65 – I regret it. They have their lives and I just wish they would send me pictures. Maybe they want to read this?
– Food in Boston
Dear Food: I’m happy to provide a connection, but please also do your best to contact them.
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