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Dear John: Living – And Loving – On Borrowed Time?

Tuesday, February 04, 2014


What’s your problem? Write to John at [email protected].

Dear John,

My husband passed away after a long illness a couple of years ago after ten wonderful years of marriage. I miss him every single day, he was my world, but I decided a while ago that I didn’t want to be lonely for the rest of my life and I know he wouldn’t want that for me, so I stopped saying no to every invitation to go out. After a string of comical date disasters, I met a man through my job that seemed perfect. Nice, polite, funny, and very sweet. A gentle soul. We met for coffee a couple of times, then dinners, and it slowly became “serious.” And that’s when he confided in me that he was a cancer survivor whose very serious cancer is in remission but who will not be able to think of himself as “cured” for a long time if ever.

Now I don’t know what to do. I care for this man, but the thought of being together and enduring the long and painful loss of another partner is too much for me to bear. I should also mention that I have a daughter who is now ten and I couldn’t put her through that again either. But then I remind myself of him and what a strong, good man he is and how scared he must have been and he deserves someone to share his life with. And most likely everything will be fine with his health. Or maybe our relationship won’t even go that far. This just has me so upset I can’t think straight. Is it foolish to let myself get in a deeper relationship with a man who could find out his illness has come back on any given day? Especially after what I went through with my husband? Like I said, I can’t even think straight. If you have any thoughts to share with me, please do.


Scared To Get Close

Dear Scared,

I can certainly understand your reluctance, and of course you would never willingly put your daughter through such a devastating loss again. But this man is no different than the rest of us – not really. We all go through life acting like our time is unlimited while knowing with more certainty than we know anything that it’s not. Perhaps his illness has given him a perspective that we could all benefit from – the importance of living well while we live, and the utter triviality of so many things we spend so much time and energy stressing over.

Maybe, instead of making this man a less desirable partner, his illness has made him a more desirable one.

You say he is nice, polite, strong, good, gentle, funny and very sweet. Any of us could receive bad news on any given day. I think the answer is obvious.


Dear John,

Maybe you can help me understand something. Probably not, but what the heck. My adult daughter came out as a lesbian. I was surprised and I guess I can’t explain it, but I wasn’t disappointed, but it’s not something I wanted for her either. In that sense, I can’t say it

was a GOOD thing and I think any parent who says otherwise is lying. We’ve had our ups and downs, maybe even more than most mother-daughters, but I love her, want her to be happy, I respect her individuality, and so I accepted this. It was her choice (I don’t mean choice like whether or not she was born this way, but that’s not even something I want to get into anyway) and that’s that. I gave her my full acceptance and I didn’t say anything but be supportive.

But here’s the problem. I can’t stand her girlfriend, and I mean I can’t stand her. My daughter is a lesbian, okay. That I get. But why then would she choose to live with a woman who is more masculine than almost any man and who is surly, rude, who goes out of her way act like a man and a disgusting one at that. Why not just be with a man?? So what am I supposed to do when I want to invite family and friends over? It’s not that this person is a lesbian, it’s that she can’t be civil. And what do I say to my daughter when I question what she sees in this person and she accuses me of not accepting that she’s a lesbian? I do – a lesbian with bad taste in women!!


Typical Mom, Kind Of

Dear Typical Mom,

A lot of times, a problem isn’t as complicated as it seems when you strip away details that seem relevant but really aren’t – in the case, the fact that your daughter’s a lesbian and (therefore) her partner’s a woman. Because this entire situation is subject to the same social constraints and expectations as it would be if you didn’t like your daughter’s rude boyfriend. So let’s take a look at the various aspects of your question without regard to the sexuality of the people involved.

You don’t like your daughter’s partner. Doesn’t matter. You don’t have to – she’s your daughter’s partner, not yours. You have to be polite to her, of course, as you would be with anybody, but you don’t have to endure rudeness or surliness. Invite her to any functions you invite your daughter to, but kindly let your daughter know that if her partner acts rudely or inappropriately, you will expect them to leave, and if she’s stubbornly rude, she won’t be welcome at future events. Remind her that this is simply what’s expected of adults and it has nothing to do with the fact that she’s a lesbian. If your daughter refuses to believe that, well, she can believe or not believe whatever she wants. You have no control over that.

Finally, about your antipathy to this woman. Before deciding you “can’t stand her” once and for all, I would strongly encourage you to make your best effort to get to know her. See if you can find out why she acts this way. She may have been hurt so often in life that her rudeness is a way to keep people out so she can avoid getting hurt again. I think you owe it to her, your daughter and yourself to give her every chance before writing her off. After all, you love and respect your daughter, and she obviously sees something lovable in her. Which brings us to your last question: what does your daughter see in her? I challenge you to find out.


Dear John,

My new boyfriend has a license to grow and use medical marijuana. We live in a state where doing that is legal. He is very careful about staying within the limits of the law, but within those limits, he is very open about what he does. His apartment just reeks of the plants he grows. And of course this is all still illegal in the eyes of the federal government.

My problem is my kids, who are both in their young teens, a boy and a girl. I like this man, and I am hopeful this will last, but I don’t know how to present this marijuana issue to my kids, and I think that eventually, I will probably have to. How can I tell them to avoid things like this if I’m together with a guy who relies on it?


Mary Jane


Dear Mary Jane,

What if your boyfriend had to take prescription painkillers every day to deal with chronic pain? What would you say to your kids then? You’d probably say something like, “Joe lives with quite a bit of pain, and his prescription painkillers make him a little more comfortable. They’re powerful drugs, definitely not for teenagers because their brains are still developing, and Joe uses them because a doctor thought doing so was a good idea.” The fact that the prescription painkiller in this case is marijuana needn’t change how you handle this. The only difference is the one you pointed out: what your boyfriend is doing is legal in your state but still illegal as far as federal law is concerned. But you can explain to your kids that the federal government has agreed to look the other way and not enforce federal law where people like your boyfriend are concerned.

Kids understand full well that adults can do things that they can’t. Be honest with them and answer their questions. If you want to influence their behavior, talk more with them about things like this, not less.

John is a middle-aged family man from Providence, Rhode Island. If you learn from your mistakes, he’s brilliant. Write to him at [email protected] . He's away from the advice desk this week, so he's chosen some of his favorite letters from previous columns to share.


Related Slideshow: 12 Valentine’s Day Events in RI

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XO Café, Providence

Now through February 7, 2014, contestants can submit their inspired story of romance in 500 words or less for the chance to win a gourmet Valentine’s Day dinner for two with wine pairings, as prepared by Executive Chef Marty Lyons. 

For more information or to submit an entry, please visit www.xocafe.com.

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Black Valentine's Day Celebration

Ocean Mist, Matunuck

Ocean Mist knows Valentine's Day can be either an awesome holiday or a very annoying one, so they are choosing to celebrate Black Valentine’s Day. Come celebrate everyday love and friendship with a spectacular dance party. All you awesome singletons and even you adorable couples - go down to Ocean Mist and check out what exactly black valentine's is all about.

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1st Annual Sweatheart Dance

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Celebrate Valentine's Day in Bristol at the 1st Annual Sweetheart Dance at Mount Hope Farm on Saturday, Feb. 15 from 8pm to 11pm. Festivities include cash bar, cupcakes and other goodies. Also, enjoy tunes by Luke Renchan Entertainment, one of RI's premiere DJ services. Prizes will also e awarded for best Valentine-themed outfits.Tickets are $10.

Reserve your ticket now by calling 401-254-1745 or click here.

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Farmhouse Valentine's Special

Langworthy Farm, Westerly

Show that special someone you care by booking a Valentine's Day Special at Langworthy Farm. This two-night stay includes a full New England breakfast each morning and a special wine and chocolate tasting for two. Rates start at $270.

To make a reservation, call 401-322-7791.

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Valentine's Day Dinner

Ocean House, Watch Hill

End Valentine’s Day on a romantic note this year with a spectacular dinner in Seasons at the Ocean House. Ocean House chefs will take you through five palate-enticing courses, each highlighting the best of the New England bounty. Celebrate one another and the passion that you share over a decadent dessert.

Price: $95/ per person (plus tax and gratuity); Wine pairing is an additional $40/ per person.

Click here to reserve your table.

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Month of Love Special

The Attwater, Newport

Surprise your sweetie by sweeping him/her away to Newport. Stay two nights or more between February 6-28, 2014 (excluding Feb 14-17, 2014) and receive chocolate covered strawberries, a long stem rose and a box of Lark Fine Foods artisan cookies - all complimentary.

For more details, go here or call 401-846-7444.

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Valentine's Day at the Inn

The Weekapaug Inn, Weekapaug

Surprise your sweetheart this Valentine’s Day with a spectacular four-course dinner in The Restaurant at the Weekapaug Inn. Enjoy intimate conversation in their candlelit dining area and steal breathtaking views of the star flecked New England sky from across the pond. Sip a cocktail (or two) in the Garden Room and pull your lover close as you relax by the glow of the crackling fire. The Weekapaug Inn is the destination for love this February.

Price: $80/ person (plus tax and gratuity)

Click here to claim your table.

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2nd Annual Cupid Ball

Center by the Blackstone, Pawtucket

You're invited to attend the 2nd Annual Cupid Ball - a Pink Tie Affair at the Center by the Blackstone. The evening includes pink wine upon arrival, hors d'oeuvres, four course meal station provided by Pamfilio's, and entertainment provided by WRIK Entertainment.

Prices: $60 per individual or $100 per couple.

Click here to buy tickets or call 401- 724-2200.

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Parent's Night Out

The Children's Workshop, all RI locations

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The Children’s Workshop has 12 locations throughout Rhode Island.

For more information, click here.

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Valentine's Day Concert

Blithewold Mansion, Bristol

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For more information please contact the Opera Providence office at 401-331-6060 or visit their website.

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Valentine's Day Burgers

Harry's Bar & Burger, Providence

Harry’s Bar & Burger is celebrating Valentine’s Day weekend with a selection of menu specials available Friday, February 14th through Sunday, February 16th. Located at 121 North Main Street, Harry's will feature Fried Mozzarella Triangles with marinara sauce ($3.50); Harry’s Cheesy Lover Burger topped with house made mac and cheese, bacon, lettuce, pickle, and special sauce on a toasted potato roll ($6.50), and Fried Oreos dusted with powdered sugar ($2.99).

For more information, please call 401-228-7437 or visit www.harrysbarburger.com

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An Exclusive Dining Experience

Aldrich Mansion, Warwick

Make your special someone feel like they're the most important person in the world this Valentine's Day by partaking in an exclusive dining experience in the opulent, historic Aldrich mansion. Enjoy a three-course prix fixe menus prepared on site by Executive Chef Al Langeveld.

Price: $145 per couple, incl. gratuity, taxes, complimentary glass of champagne, cash bar, live music during cocktails, and free parking. RSVP by Feb. 6 with menu selections.

For more information, go here or call 401-739-6850.


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