DEAR ABBY: I’m close to 70 and have three grown children. I’ve been a widow for 15 years. My oldest son, age 45, has pretty much cut himself off from our fairly close family. His reason: Two years ago, after I had surgery for lung cancer, he claims I told him I wished I had never had children. This couldn’t be further from the truth. All three of mine were planned.

My other children decided the hospital was overmedicating me and that most of what I was babbling was nonsense. I only remember bits and pieces and have no idea whether my recollections are accurate.

I have no problem dealing with my son’s attitude; I’m a realist. The problem is the way it’s affecting my 90-year-old mother, who lives with me. She feels he has cut her out of his life, too, because of me, and it appears she’s right.

How can we convince him he’s ripping his grandmother’s heart out when he won’t talk to either of us? She doesn’t deserve such treatment, and he has no right to hurt her this way. — BEWILDERED IN FLORIDA

DEAR BEWILDERED: If this is the ONLY reason for the estrangement from your son — which I doubt — have his siblings talk to him and point out that: (1) You were so drugged up after your surgery you were not in your right mind, therefore you shouldn’t be punished or held responsible for any gibberish that came out of your mouth during that period, and (2) it is wrong to punish Granny in such a heartless fashion for something that has nothing to do with her. Perhaps they will be able to get through to him where you cannot.

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DEAR ABBY: My husband is a successful man. He is charming in public, but at heart he’s a very private person. I was successful in my field, and I’m more outgoing.

He is proud to show me off at parties because people find me interesting and witty, but without fail, at the end of the night he will tell me that somewhere during the evening I “crossed the line.” Perhaps I spent too much time talking with another man, or said something he found inappropriate. If I look the wrong way, he accuses me of flirting with someone. Invariably I get a lecture on the way home or the next morning.

I told him this morning that I hate to go out with other people now because of it. He took great offense at that and said, “You are not the VICTIM here. You are the PERPETRATOR.”

Sometimes I do say things that come out wrong, but I don’t mean them. It would kill me to know that I hurt someone with my words. I am not interested in any other man. I love my husband. What can I do? — LIFE OF THE PARTY IN VIRGINIA

DEAR LIFE: Not knowing either of you, I cannot determine if your husband is extremely controlling, jealous and insecure, or whether you are doing something out of line. You and your husband could benefit from discussing this with a licensed marriage and family therapist. If he refuses to go — and he may — you should go without him.
If your behavior at these gatherings was really unacceptable or an embarrassment, he would not want to “show you off at parties.” You shouldn’t have to worry that you’ll be lectured the next day for just being yourself. Something is definitely wrong here, and I don’t think it’s with you.

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Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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