Dear Abby: My father-in-law died two weeks ago. The services were beautiful. Many people sent flowers, but one arrangement – a bouquet of white flowers – arrived anonymously. I didn't think much about it, just that someone wanted to express sympathy. Now my mother-in-law has become frantic with concern about the flowers. She sobs over not knowing who sent them and – we think – suspects they came from an old or not-so-old flame.
My in-laws were married for more than 50 years, and it is heartbreaking to see her compound her grief with these thoughts. We have suggested various reasons that someone might have sent the flowers anonymously, but she refuses to accept them.
Is sending flowers this way unusual? Or are there good reasons to do it? For the record, is it even good manners to send flowers to a funeral anonymously? Or is my mother-in-law's reaction normal? – Grieving in Georgetown, Texas
Dear Grieving: Your mother-in-law is grieving. She is fragile right now, and possibly not thinking straight. A card may have been sent with the bouquet that was somehow lost in transit.
That she was married to her husband for 50 years and now suspects he was unfaithful because of a bouquet of flowers at the man's funeral is a sad reflection on their marriage. She should discuss this with her spiritual adviser, if she has one, or a grief therapist.
Dear Abby: I am in my early 30s and have been married for five years. My husband and I decided to have a baby, and five months ago I found out I was pregnant. When I told my mom the great news, she wasn't happy to hear it. She doesn't care. All she cares about is how "fat" I'm going to get.
My mother never wants to talk about anything baby-related. If I complain about an ache or pain, she quickly says, "It's because you're fat!" The last time I went to the OB/GYN for a checkup, Mom didn't even ask if everything was OK. All she said was, "How much weight have you gained?"
It hurts me so much that she treats me and her future grandchild this way. I almost feel like having this baby was a mistake. Please help me. I don't know what to do anymore. – Almost in Tears in Ohio
Dear Almost in Tears: Stop depending so much on your mother's approval and you'll have a happier pregnancy. The person you should talk to about your weight is your OB/GYN. If your weight is such that it might affect your health or your baby's, you need to know it ASAP. Your doctor can refer you to a nutritionist if you need guidance about your diet.
Your relationship with your mother doesn't appear to be particularly positive. As you grow closer to motherhood, talk more with your girlfriends, talk more to your husband and less to your mother.
Dear Abby: I don't go to nightclubs often, so I'm curious as to what the protocol is for this. Sometimes, in the ladies' room, there is a woman there with toiletries, gum, cosmetics, etc. Before you can get your own, she puts soap in your hand and gives you a paper towel. There is a bowl on the counter for people to leave tips. The club manager says she isn't an employee of the club, but simply looking to make tips. I understand this.
My question: Am I supposed to tip her just once for the evening, or each time I use the ladies' room? – Inquisitive Clubber in Florida
Dear Clubber: Tip the attendant each time you use the bathroom and she hands you the soap and towel – the standard rate is 50 cents to a dollar. However, if you tip the person generously the first time, you shouldn't feel obligated to do it again if you need to return.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.