DEAR MISS LONELYHEARTS: My grandfather is losing his memory and his discretion. He’s started telling me openly about his love life when he was young, and in too much detail!
I’m a 21-year-old guy, and I don’t need sex-ed from Grandpa. If he’s telling the truth, he had plenty of wild experiences in his youth in the hippie era. His stories often begin, "When I was 21…" He remembers everything in detail, although half the time he can’t confidently tell you what day it is.
I don’t want to hurt his feelings, but I also don’t want to hear what he did and how often, and about all the drugs he had while hitch-hiking and camping at rock festivals around the country.
— My Ears are Burning, River Heights
Dear Burning Ears: Grandpa’s just trying to connect with you — his 21-year-old grandson — before he dies. He may not have that much fun these days. Now that he’s has lost his discretionary powers (and it’s too much for you) here are some choices: Shush him, don’t visit, or guide him and take notes for a "book."
You can always say, when things get too hot for your ears, "Gramps, I like your stories, but skip this part, please." But don’t just sit there and blush the whole time. Turn it around and be the interviewer.
First, do some research. Read up on rock and folk music history from that era so you can talk about the big acts he saw live. Also ask him about the family you share and its history — and record it if you can in his voice — because when he’s gone, the stories go with him.
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: I’m writing in response to "Broken-Hearted Mother of Two." (One of her children died as a baby and she’s upset her husband only mentions the living child when people ask how many kids they have. I suggested most strangers really don’t need to be advised of the baby’s death. —Miss L.)
I’d like to bring to your attention an international volunteer organization, the Compassionate Friends (TCF), which offers peer support for all bereaved parents regardless of the age of the child or cause of death.
The reaction to the death of a baby is as individual as the person experiencing it. Spouses or partners often grieve in different ways, frequently misunderstanding each other’s reactions or needs. Just because the dad doesn’t mention his son, doesn’t mean he’s not thinking of, or grieving, his death — although nothing can take away the pain you feel right now. TCF is there to provide support.
The Winnipeg chapter was the first in Canada and was established in 1977. For more information, visit tcfwinnipeg.org.
— With Peaceful Wishes, Manitoba
Dear Peaceful Wishes: Thanks for passing this along. There is no easy way to deal with the death of a child, and both parents would benefit by having other people to talk to who have experienced the same type of tragic loss.
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: My new boyfriend is an outdoorsman and I just love that about him, especially the way his jacket smells when he comes in from outside. But, I must confess, I refuse to go out in the bush with him, as I’m an indoor kind of woman.
His previous girlfriend used to accompany him, even for camping in the snow. Last night he was pressuring me and gave a poorly disguised hint — he "needs" a woman to enjoy his outdoor winter adventures. That wouldn’t be me, but I’m falling in love with him. Now I’m getting nervous.
His ex-girlfriend is jealous I’m with him and I wouldn’t put it past her to sneak back. What should I do?
— Indoors Lover, Charleswood
Dear Indoors Lover: Opposites may attract, but they have a hard time staying together. You must understand it’s much more fun (and romantic) being outdoors with a lover than to be by yourself, or with the guys all the time.
This new man has already experienced the fun of a like-minded outdoors woman, and there’s a long winter ahead for him. Before you get in too deeply, consider setting this "outdoor animal" free. Then, look for an urban-type guy who prefers to be indoors by the fire, with cosy you.
Please send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or Miss Lonelyhearts c/o the Winnipeg Free Press, 1355 Mountain Ave., Winnipeg, MB, R2X 3B6.
Each year, the Free Press publishes more than 1,000 letters to Miss Lonelyhearts and her responses to the life and relationship questions that come her way.