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Tue, Jan. 28

Dear Annie: A less-than-ideal party

Dear Annie: A few weeks ago, it was my birthday. For months, my husband was hinting that he was going to do something very special. I was excited. I assumed it might be a romantic dinner at my favorite restaurant in the city.

When the big day finally came, I put on my best party dress and prepared for our memorable night. While we were driving, he began to look a little nervous. I asked him, “What is wrong, honey?” He said, “I just hope you like what we have planned.”

We pulled up to a very casual restaurant. (Needless to say, I was very overdressed.) “Party of 20,” he said to the hostess. “Wow, a surprise party!” I thought.

When I got to the table, I looked around at the guests. With the exception of two couples, all the people there were his friends. I put on a broad smile, but inside I was disappointed.

I ended up having a good time. When we got in the car, I asked him why my friends were not there. He explained that most of my friends were away that weekend at a college reunion and couldn’t make it. I couldn’t help but wonder, if he knew a month in advance that my friends could not make it, why did he go through with the party anyway? – It’s My Party, and I’ll Cry if I Want To

Dear It’s My Party: Hold those tears, birthday girl. Your husband planned a special dinner to celebrate you. True, he probably should have thought to rework the plan once he learned so many of your friends wouldn’t be able to make it. But this is a case in which you need to concentrate on the full half of the glass. He acted out of love. Thank him for the dinner and the nice gesture, and after some time passes, gently tell him that surprises just aren’t your thing and to please leave the party planning to you.

Dear Annie: My very healthy and able 80-year-old mother has started to repeat herself. She was widowed two years ago, and at first I attributed it to stress and grief, but it’s getting worse. She has gone for a cognitive functioning test and passed. She is considered above-average – so perhaps this repeating herself is just a part of aging.

My question is: What is kind etiquette? Do I just let her tell the story again, or do I say I’ve heard this already? – Concerned Daughter

Dear Concerned: As Joan Didion once wrote, “we tell ourselves stories in order to live.” For your mom, repeating these anecdotes is most likely a way to make sense and meaning of the past, to revisit lost loved ones and sort snapshots into an overall narrative.

Continue to monitor her health and ensure there’s no presence of dementia. If all is well, let her take you down the same familiar stretches of memory lane. It’s good exercise.

Dear Annie: As a daily reader of your column, I have noted that you failed to alert readers to the possibility that medication is causing negative behavior, particularly in the elderly. Most recently, “Sad Grandma” wrote that her husband had recently started bullying their 9-year-old grandson because of his long hair, despite the fact that Grandpa himself had long hair as a teenager and the grandson had been growing his hair for a long time. Grandma and her son need to investigate side effects of any medications that Grandpa may be taking, identify any other changes in behavior or physical ability, and talk with a doctor. Changing medications or dosage could be an easy solution, although such changes in behavior could also indicate a developing serious illness. – Been There

Send your questions for Annie Lane to dearannie@creators.com. To find out more about Annie Lane and read features by other Creators Syndicate columnists and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

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