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Recently, I was having a conversation with my daughter. She asked me a question that caused me to pause. She asked, "Who will take care of you when you can't take care of yourself?" Well, I knew I wasn't going to live forever, but it didn't dawn on me I didn't have an answer to her question. I have been independent for so long taking care of family, I did not even think about who will take care of me. Even though I have a few aches and pains here and there, I still get around extremely well. I know sometimes life can throw us curve balls. I realize too it may take longer to rebound as a "seasoned citizen." Who will take care of me? Everyone has a lot on their plates. I would feel awful if I was one more.
"Unsure Seasoned Citizen"
Dear "Unsure Seasoned Citizen,"
Your daughter raised a very thoughtful, important, and timely question and one that should be considered carefully. It is wonderful that you are in good health. Continue to take good care of yourself by eating a proper diet, exercising regularly, getting in some relaxation, and seeing your doctors regularly. More importantly, follow doctors' orders. On a more serious note, check your insurance coverage to determine if you have appropriate and sufficient coverage should you have to spend time in a rehab facility or should you require the services of an at-home care provider. If possible, try to obtain more coverage, if needed. Next, protect your assets. Contact a lawyer to get a free consultation. (Perhaps your daughter would like to accompany you. Get her input. She might have some thoughts about participating in your care, should the need arise). A lawyer can walk you through all that is involved.
Lastly, have a valid will, and know whom you want to serve as Power of Attorney should the need arise.
Once you have a plan in place for the items noted, relax and enjoy life! Wishing you a long and healthy life!!
All the best for the holiday season!! Merry Christmas and best wishes for a happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year!
I have not seen my children in almost 2 years. This is the second Thanksgiving I will miss their company, as we are not having our annual Thanksgiving dinner with them here. I am feeling some type of way when we speak online with Face Time. I had to tell my daughter I cannot see her or her brother this Thanksgiving because of Covid-19 safety precautions, which was heart wrenching for me. Please give me some relief in this matter. Thank you so much.
Yours, A Dad with a lonely heart
Dear Dad with a lonely heart:
Cheer up! The times are bending toward normalcy. We (you, me, the nation and the world) have been traumatized and victimized with the onset of this deadly coronavirus pandemic. We have suffered a tremendous loss of life and liberty. More than 253 million have been infected and 5.1 million have died worldwide. Just in the United States alone there have been 752,000 deaths attributed to Covid-19. This is a serious matter, and it has become crucial to exercise extreme caution to stay safe even though things are moving in the right direction with vaccines and safe practices.
The holiday season is a time to reflect and to give thanks for our blessings, big and small, including technology. Give thanks for the love that you have nurtured between you and your children. Take comfort in this fact. Not being in the same room for Thanksgiving dinner cannot change that. We are not in typical times. Continue to be creative in your efforts to connect until it is safe to gather in person again.
Face Time and Zoom have been instrumental in helping us to keep in touch with friends and loved ones. While this cannot replace being in the same room and getting a real hug, we understand why we must do this, particularly if a member of the family is elderly or has a compromised immune system.
Each of us has the obligation to do what we can to make certain that we do our part to stem the spread of Covid-19. That includes all who are eligible getting vaccinated. At least have the discussion. Covid-19 is one hurdle that we have to jump collectively. In the interim, share a Thanksgiving meal via zoom. Make it a fun time with games and walks down memory lane, etc.
Finally, as you gather, remember to be grateful for every blessing, including the fact that you are still are able to be with your family even if it is over zoom. Give thanks that all is as well as it is; discuss and look forward with anticipation to a time in the near future when the family can get together face to face. Wishing you a joyous holiday season! God bless you.
Dear Ask Yvette:
I have been married for more than 10 years and we have a wonderful daughter. I’d like to ask you what is the secret to remaining married for forty years (or more)?
What advice would you offer to those considering marriage and what advice would you offer newlyweds?
Thank you, signed Marriage on the Mind.
Dear Marriage on the Mind:
Congratulations on your long and fruitful marriage! In answer to your inquiry, there is no secret to a long marriage. It is quite clear. On the day a couple recites wedding vows to one another, they make a commitment to love, honor and cherish each other until death do they part. There are no loopholes in commitment. "To have and to hold from this day forward for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part," is pretty straightforward. When the glow of the honeymoon dims and real life happens, remember that you vowed (made a commitment) to love each other through it all. Honor the commitment. On a personal note, having been married for forty years, I can tell you that communication and forgiveness will be required. Never let anyone come between you and your spouse; keep your personal business in house unless there is a need to get professional input from clergy or a marriage therapist, etc. And finally, never go to bed angry. Tell each other how you feel and then resolve to make each other smile.
My advice to those considering marriage is to be good friends first and to get marriage counseling. It is easy to get caught up in the excitement of a whirlwind romance, engagement and planning a wedding. Marriage is a serious (although wonderful), undertaking designed to last a lifetime. Counseling will ground a couple by exploring some of the pitfalls that can occur (and even end a marriage) around certain areas like finances, life goals, religious beliefs, raising children, personal habits and so on. Counseling may also lead to the discovery that the couple is incompatible. Better to know this before walking down the aisle.
On newlyweds, my advice is the same as to couples married for years. When you come down from the clouds, remember you have to do the work to have a healthy and long marriage. Honor the commitment you made to love, honor and cherish one another for life.
Wishing you all the best.
Dear Ask Yvette:
I have a friend that does not listen. He is constantly complaining about everybody on his job. He’s always talking about how they are not doing their job. He states that the are not plugged in to the level that they should be. For some reason he doesn’t see he isn’t plugged in either. He means well, but doesn’t try to do better. It does not help that I am not totally direct with him. He can be very sensitive at times. I tried to get him to focus on himself and stop worrying about others, but it doesn’t seem to work. How can I get him to see that he’s the mirror image of the people that he speaks about?
Dear No Longer Listening:
Your friend appears to be conscientious and well meaning. He could probably benefit from acquiring a position that will give him the authority to effectuate change. Encourage him to seek a promotion to administration or management. This could involve some preparation or training which will afford him the opportunity to learn up close what it takes to get plugged into the skills needed to motivate and supervise employees. Further, he will have the resources and ability to create an environment where workers cheerfully and competently perform their duties. With his heighted skill level and enthusiasm, the organization can only be a more pleasant and productive place to work. Any shortcomings that your friend has will be revealed and addressed in the training. My suggestion is that you continue to listen to your friend and support him in following through on improving the work environment for him and his fellow co-workers by first getting himself in a position to make a difference. Wishing you and your friend the best.
July 4, 2021
Dear "Ask Yvette”:
I am writing this letter to help a friend. Three years ago my friend’s husband divorced her. She isn’t quite the same. She has a job where she works for the public. I noticed how unkept her clothes are. Maybe she doesn’t realize it, but it is very noticeable. Often times people don’t take an account that other people are watching. This is a little touchy for me. The people she works with may have noticed too, but never say anything. Should I mention it to her? Or should I mind my own business?
Not For Me To Say
Dear Not For Me To Say:
My heart truly goes out to your friend; she has suffered an impactful trauma. The willful departure of the person who vowed to love and cherish you for a lifetime can throw one’s life into a tailspin. Divorce can be one of the most stressful and emotional experiences in life. It is extremely painful because it represents loss. There is a grieving process which your friend is probably experiencing, and her appearance may suffer.
What your friend needs most now is a compassionate friend who does not have to all the answers, but who listens. At this time in her life, she is more than likely oblivious to the whisperings behind her back and the less than understanding stares. That’s a good thing, because it does not help. As her friend, I recommend that you be a source of comfort and encouragement; tell her to keep her head up and to keep looking good. You can also make some suggestions about her getting counseling to get through this period, even offer to accompany her. Arrange a girl’s night out just to hang out and talk and/or a day of pampering at a spa, including a massage. Groupon offers great deals.
Your friend needs to see that she is still loved and cared for. Never mind what others are saying. It is for you to say how much you care about her and that life goes on. She can move beyond this and enjoy a beautiful life. Learning from what did not work can fortify our resolve to move forward successfully in future relationships. Friends show up at the showdown. Show up for her. Praying for your friend that she will come through this better and stronger.
July 4, 2021
Dear “Ask Yvette”:
I am writing this letter because a friend of mine is in need of good advice. Four years ago her son passed away from cancer. He was about 24 years old. He was the youngest of four children. She has not allowed herself to overcome her pain. She is in a state of depression. She contacted me just recently. She feels so out of touch that she only goes to work and come home. At one point she was going to school to get her bachelor’s degree, but now she has given that up. When I spoke with her on the phone, it was still a sensitive subject to talk about. Even though it’s been four years she is blaming God for his death. I prayed for her and told her that he belonged to God before he was hers. I don’t think she cared about me saying that. I sent her a few scriptures and an inspirational song to let her know that God is on the throne. My dilemma is how often should I contact her without being someone who’s making her feel worse?
Dear Lovingly Concerned:
My deepest sympathies are extended to your friend in the loss of her beloved son. Her grief is profound and may take years to subside. If one has not walked in her shoes, one may not be able understand the depth of her grief, but you can certainly sympathize with her. You do this by just being there for her. Your friend might be receiving bereavement counseling, but it may take a while for the pain to go away. Certainly, recommend such counseling if your friend is not receiving it. Go a step further and research some resources. She must get help with the depression that can easily follow such a loss. What she needs in the interim is someone to be supportive.
The words of comfort that you are providing are not registering; the pain blocks it. Silence is golden then. God is an easy target to aim for. She cannot lash out at cancer, it’s like punching in the dark. You only tire yourself out. Your friend is still in the grieving stages. Show compassion.
My advice is that you continue to reach out to her. Continue praying for her and her family. Believe it or not, your concern is making her feel better. When she is able to hear you, remind her what a wonderful, loving son she raised and how he would want his mother and siblings to honor his memory by remembering the love they shared as a family, and it would make him smile to know that this was being passed on by the family continuing to love each other and living a joyful life. You could say to her “I am sure that if the tables were turned, you would want your children to go on and to lead full, productive and happy lives bolstered by the love that was an outgrowth of your family union.”
Lastly, suggest that the family do something special to honor her son, like make a donation to a charitable organization that does cancer research or sponsor a small scholarship in his name. Remind her that the love they shared with her youngest child will live on in the heart of each family member and each friend. Before you call her again, send a card letting her know you are thinking about her and praying for her. Then call. This means more than you know. Burdens are lighter when they are shared. Praying for your friend.
June 5, 2021
I have a friend who two years ago had a baby that died in infancy. She really hasn’t recovered from his death. Unfortunately, she feels guilty. Her family members told her she was being punished because she married a man who was a cancer survivor. Even though she heard those words she continues to try to have a baby with no success. She doesn’t take it to the account that she has a host of health issues herself. She continues to ask me if she was cursed. I told her no but she isn’t hearing my answer. Maybe you can help.
A Concerned Friend
Dear Concerned Friend:
My sincere condolences to your friend on her loss. The death of a loved one whether they lived a short life or a long life is never easy. The grief is compounded when you add blame, false or otherwise, to the mix. God is the giver and sustainer of life. She should not take the sole responsibility for the loss of her infant son. While genetics do play a role in all of our lives from birth and throughout, you have to start with the facts.
I would suggest that your friend speak with her general doctor (to make sure that she is in good health), her gynecologist, and an oncologist. I am by no means an expert nor do I have any greater knowledge than the next person. But, I did some preliminary research (Cancer.net) and learned that children born of cancer survivors have no greater risk of developing cancer than those born to parents without such history. However, there are some cancers that are hereditary that perspective parents should do testing for prior to electing to become parents. And even in those instances, according to Cancer.net, there is no guarantee that their children will develop cancer. Don’t’ take my word for it. Check with your doctors and do the research.
Curses are born of superstitions. Your friend is blessed instead. She (we) live in an age where we can get help for troubling conditions, and we have many options when it comes to parenting a child. Tell your friend to forgive those who are expressing their grief by guilting her. If need be, tell her to forgive herself for allowing thoughts of guilt to enter her heart.
Lastly, advise your friend to get some bereavement counseling to help her to get through this dark period. By shedding light on this, she will see that life happens to everyone and when it does, with appropriate resources one can recover and live a happy, healthy life.
Tell her to begin with prayer. There is no sorrow that God cannot heal. I am praying for your friend.
Dear ASK Yvette:
I pray all is well with you, as for me, things could be better. I have a dilemma. I am a single, 30 year old Christian male. I have my own place and business. I have a very good friend that I have known since I am in third grade. We are almost the best of friends. She is a female. We have been friends for so long and she has helped me with many things and vice-versa. We have always kept in touch even when I moved to other states. She has had boyfriends and I have had girlfriends and yet we have always remained friends. Last year, it was revealed to me (by a mutual friend of ours) that she is in love with me. I am astonished and speechless. Last year, I moved out of the state that she lives in. In April, she came to visit me. We always enjoyed each other’s company, so I didn’t pay too much attention to the visit. Yet, when she arrived she told me that “she knows that God told her that I am her husband.” I was shocked!!!! I am not attracted to her in that way, we are very good friends and I don’t know what to do? Some say I need to cut off the friendship but I know that she would hurt. Others say that I should remain friends with her and when she sees me dating other people, she will get the message. I have told her (a few times) that I am not in love with her but I love her as a friend. Yvette, please help.
Loveless in Seattle
Dear Loveless in Seattle:
You are a highly sought after demographic: young, single, Christian and a business owner. Your dilemma is not uncommon. In our search for the “right” one, we often overlook the good friend who is standing next to us. The qualities of a loyal friend can be the foundation for a deeper relationship. Hence, friends can and do fall in love and get married. However, this does not appear to be one of those times, your friend’s revelation notwithstanding. Love is not one-sided, and certainly God would not leave you uninformed. I suggest that you continue to be friends and continue to be honest with your friend about your love for her as a friend. If this is something she cannot accept, then she will understand that the friendship may have to be put on hiatus. If love blooms during this time out, then beautiful. If not, you still have a wonderful friendship. In the meantime, pray. Wishing you all the best.
Dear ASK Yvette:
I have a granddaughter who I raised from birth. She is now 19 years old. The reason why I raised her is because her mother was unable. My granddaughter has an emotional disorder. While she was growing up and attending school she was able to get all the help that she needed. But now that she has graduated, she doesn’t have the social, emotional or mental support. I am a senior citizen on a fixed income. My granddaughter is very beautiful and shapely but has a chronological age of 11. She wants to get married and live on her own and because she is unable to do that now, she is not taking her medication and she is becoming verbally abusive. I’ve had to call the police on her two times (it broke my heart to do so). I love my granddaughter very much but I don’t know what to do. I don’t know how much longer I can take this and care for her. Her mother is no help and her aunt won’t take her. Your advice would much appreciated.
Dear Broken hearted:
My heart goes out to you. You are to be applauded for your love and commitment to your granddaughter by seeking answers to help her better her life. Her emotional disorder has been documented in school records over the years as well as the services she has received. Unfortunately, graduation does not end the need for services. Try contacting her former high school’s School Based Support Team or Guidance Department to obtain a referral for outside resources and/or social services for students who have graduated. You can also contact your local hospital to get information on mental health resources. Additionally, since your granddaughter may need some assistance to live on her own, it will be necessary to be in touch with facilities that offer such services. You can dial 311 or Google assisted living facilities that meet your granddaughter’s needs to find out the requirements to make application. Finally, there are services for the elderly through the Department of the Aging that will address elder abuse and will provide support services in all areas. If possible, try to get someone to help you. Perhaps you can enlist the help of the aunt in procuring these services for your granddaughter. You may have to assist your granddaughter through a surrogate because of the abuse you described. That’s okay, she will still be getting the help she so desperately needs. Praying for the best.
I have two friends I've known for years. One is a female and one is a male. My female friend told me that the two of them have been walking for exercise for months. She invited me to walk with them. Days later he called me and agreed that I should join them. In the past, when we went to other activities they did not turn out well. I'm not interested in our mutual friend and I'm sure he's not interested in me. We are like-minded. Our conversation is always interesting and entertaining. I think, in the past, she felt slighted when the three of us would get together. It's been awhile since the three of us have engaged in any activity. She sounded sincere in inviting me. I'm not sure I want to be bothered. Should I give it another chance?
Dear Unwanted Walker:
Congratulations on being ahead of the game! You know the dynamics at play where your female
friend is concerned. She obviously has a thing for your male friend and feels a little insecure
when you are present because of the meeting of the minds that you and your male friend share. I
do not sense any serious competition at hand. However, it seems she is not able to monopolize the
spotlight when the three of you are together. At the very least, she feels left out. But, she also
likes and respects you and enjoys your company, as does your male friend.
You and this male friend have no romantic inclinations, and therefore are not aware of how you
appear to this female friend. Your innocent conversations look like male and female bonding to
your female friend. Perception is real for some. To avoid giving the mistaken impression that
you are getting closer to this male friend in a way that you are not, engage in conversation
mainly with your female friend. Always aim to include her when you are speaking to him.
Lean into her conversation on purpose and make comments that are sincere and upbeat about
what she is saying. You can also bring up things that the three of you can talk about that are
familiar to the three of you.
When the walk is over, make your way home or somewhere else and leave the two of them
together there or at the meet up place. In this way, your mutual friendship will remain in tact.
It will be apparent that you appreciate them both, alleviating speculation that you have
interest in this male beyond friendship.
You believe that both the male friend and female friend were genuine in wanting you along
on the walk. From what you write, I believe they were. Walking is great exercise and more
fun when done with another person or with a group. It's the main attraction. Don't overthink
it. Go for the walk. Enjoy the company!!!
Currently I am living in a very nice but isolated area. The pandemic has made it even more desolate. I am considering moving (I don't know where yet--maybe another state) but my husband is content here. He said that he doesn't have another "move in him." I miss my family and friends. My dilemma is that I don't want to mention the thought of moving to my husband at this time. I think it is best to wait until after the pandemic is over. This has been heavy on my heart. What should I do?
Dear Prayerfully waiting:
Kudos on living in a very nice area! Seemingly, your husband agrees with you on this declaration. This is therefore a fitting springboard from which to start a discussion. You do not have to mention moving, but remember your husband is not a mind reader. One day when the two of you are cuddled up on the couch making conversation, begin an open and honest dialogue about how you feel. Marriage is designed to be a safe space where needs, wants and desires can be shared without fear of rejection or reprisal. Empathy and compromise to achieve the well-being of each other is an outgrowth of the love in this union. Moving can be mentally and physically exhausting, and many put if off for those very reasons. Perhaps you can be ready with some options that would simplify this task. Research locations that have some of the same amenities but that are not so isolated. Also, get estimates from packers and movers with reasonable rates; just in case. If moving right now is not feasible, think about how you can engage more with family and friends. Plan more frequent visits to see them or to have them visit you on a more regular basis. In this age of technology, there are numerous options. Zoom meetings have been very efficacious in filling the gap. Phone calls and cards still work. In the aftermath of the pandemic, loneliness rears its head in busy cities and in the confines of a home with several family members present. Be creative in the ways you alleviate this state by planning fun activities for you and your husband. Get your husband's input. Remember, the important thing is that you are together with the one you love. Pray, and pray together in the spirit of love and consideration; and together reach a solution that is satisfactory to both. Praying for you.
How long should a man and a woman wait until combining their lives together spiritually and financially?
Sincerely yours, "lost my head."
Dear Lost my head:
While I cannot give a specific timeline, I would suggest that they should wait long enough to become genuine friends. Friends are usually like-minded and are able to to articulate life goals and beliefs; spiritual and otherwise (without judgement). More importantly, real friendship is about being authentic, you can be your true self. The friendship will thrive or not. If it does not thrive, then neither is worse off. Perhaps each will have grown from the experience. At the very least, you will know what you want and/or do not want in a friendship. A relationship where one is thinking about combining finances is equally or more important. It is necessary to know if a man and a woman are compatible when considering a more committed relationship. This may require a little time to get to know one another, and one should get to know (to the extent possible) each other's family and friends. Be cognizant that people do bring baggage from the past to a current situation whether a friendship or a romantic alliance. Friends can be open about this and can take steps to resolve such matters, especially if they believe that the relationship is leading to something more serious. My suggestion is that both communicate honestly. It might be that each must decide to forgive and forget the missteps of the past while learning the lesson from it, clearing the way to a better future or to simply move on. Begin by connecting spiritually. Pray and/or worship together. Make plans in accordance with your shared faith or spiritual beliefs. Joining finances is more involved and can lead to a lot of misgivings. For that reason, I would advise that you save separately, and when you decide to make a longterm commitment such as marriage, that would be the time to explore combining finances. Right now, both should be transparent as they contemplate taking their relationship to a deeper level. Wishing you all the best.
THE OPINIONS OR VIEWS EXPRESSED IN THIS COLUMN ARE NOT INTENDED TO TREAT OR DIAGNOSE; NOR ARE THEY MEANT TO REPLACE THE TREATMENT AND CARE THAT YOU MAY BE RECEIVING FROM A LICENSED PROFESSIONAL, PHYSICIAN OR MENTAL HEALTH PROFESSIONAL.