Dear Abby: My wife passed away two years ago at age 40 after a long bout with cancer. We had three children, ages 7 to 12. I am 44 and engaged now to a wonderful woman. We are planning to have a small wedding with fewer than 50 guests.
While the kids and I are doing well, my late wife's mother, "Karen," is still grieving. She has a forceful personality and can be quite pushy. She lives nearby.
We have not finalized the arrangements or sent out invitations. Karen has been asking if she and my former father-in-law are invited, but we haven't answered her yet. She says she's hurt because she feels we don't want her there.
Is it proper etiquette to invite the parents of a deceased spouse to a remarriage? The only people she would know aside from us would be my parents, who need to bond with my fiancee's family who are coming from out of town. The kids seem to not care either way. If it were me, I'd feel awkward being there. Help! — LOOKING TO THE FUTURE IN ILLINOIS
Dear Looking: Although your late wife is gone, her parents are still your children's grandparents and therefore should be treated as part of your family. While you might feel awkward if you were in their position, consider how hurt they will be if they are not included on the guest list. The decision whether to attend should be theirs to make.
Welcome them and treat them with kindness. A wife can be "replaced," but a daughter cannot, which is why Karen is still grieving even though you have gone on with your life.
Dear Abby: I need advice on how to deal with a friend/neighbor's messy, unkempt backyard. We are getting ready to put our house on the market, and I'm concerned their yard may be a deterrent to potential buyers. Their pool looks like a swamp, and various pieces of lawn furniture are strewn about the yard. Tables are turned upside down and random items are thrown about.
They are friends of ours, but I have no clue how to broach such a sensitive topic without upsetting them. Please help. — LIVING NEXT TO A SWAMP
Dear Living: Because those neighbors are friends, I assume they are aware that you are selling your home. If you live in an area that's prone to any dangerous mosquito-borne viruses, you would be doing them a favor to point out that their pool equipment needs fixing because still water makes an excellent breeding place for mosquitoes.
As to the state of their yard, your real estate agent may have some suggestions about how to handle that. If you and your spouse volunteer to help your neighbors make it more attractive, they might be receptive. However, if they refuse and you live in a community with a neighborhood association that regulates how properties must look in order to preserve their value, consider bringing this to its attention.