Oh, what an animated discussion you must have had exploring the hermeneutics of Frankenweenie with a 5-year-old. I agree electronic devices and reading material should be put away when the family is gathered around the dinner table. But being a parent myself, it was my understanding cartoons were invented in order to stick the kids somewhere safe while the adults tended to other business. I’ve only known your girlfriend for one paragraph, but I’m already exhausted by her. If you enjoy second-by-second monitoring of where your eyeballs are focused and “relentless requests for help with tasks” to assure your full attention is on her, then no wonder you’re in love. But if you need some down time, as you indicate you do, then you should be reconsidering your decision to live together. Problems tend to get exacerbated once you’re ensnared. On the other hand, maybe you find yourself looking forward to the daily viewing and exegesis of Doc McStuffins.
I am a divorced woman in my early 50s who signed up for online dating. Six months ago I was contacted by a somewhat older man. I was not interested and politely told him so. He continued to write me on the site, sharing details of his life. He had a son he was estranged from, and was in declining health. The letters were heartbreaking. I answered letting him know that while I wasn't interested romantically, I'd be happy to listen. One day he wrote that he was going to the Mayo Clinic. He begged to hear my voice and I consented to a call. It nearly broke my heart. He went to the clinic and imagine my surprise when they called me to report his condition following surgery. He'd listed me as his only contact! I didn't hear from him for months and I thought he may have passed away. Today the phone rang. It was him. He is bed-bound at home and will soon move to hospice. Then he told me God told him that he should love me and that my love would be his salvation. I had to tell him that I did not love him. The he cried and begged me to visit him in hospice. What should I do?
I wonder if that really was a nurse from the Mayo Clinic calling you with the post-surgical update. I have a slight suspicion this guy may be a reverse Lennay Kekua, and all he needs to make a miraculous recovery are your tender mercies. But let’s take as fact that this man who came into your life because of a data dump is ending his alone. That’s sad, but you have to decide whether because of your generous spirit, or your inability to say, “Just leave me alone,” you’re willing to be sucked into the vortex of a stranger’s last days. Given your description of his personality, it’s easy to understand his lack of companionship since he’s pathetic and draining. Fortunately, his decision to use hospice means he won’t die alone. The lovely people who do this work will be in frequent touch with him, monitoring his condition, and tending to him as his days dwindle. You have nothing to feel guilty about if you decline to meet at his deathbed the man you never had any interest in.
More Dear Prudence Columns
“A Marriage Hits a Rough Patch: Hubby’s new beard rubs me the wrong way, but he refuses to shave!” Posted Dec. 29, 2011.
“Santa Baby: A grownup throws a tantrum over changing Christmas traditions. Plus, Dear Prudence handles your holiday hassles.” Posted Dec. 22, 2011.
“Must Love Cats?: My friends are disgusted that I’d give up a beloved kitty for my boyfriend. But he’s severely allergic!” Posted Dec. 15, 2011.
“Poor Parental Activity: My husband is leaving me for my 25-year-old daughter.” Posted Dec. 8, 2011.
More Dear Prudence Chat Transcripts
“Wife’s Best Friend Is Hubby’s Worst Enemy: In a live chat, Prudie advises a man whose wife’s best buddy is out to “destroy” him.” Posted Jan. 9, 2012.
“In Love With the Nanny: In a live chat, Dear Prudence advises a woman whose ex has fallen for their sitter.” Posted Jan. 3, 2012.
“Isolated Incident?: Dear Prudence advises a teacher reluctant to report abuse for fear of fracturing a family—during a live chat at Washingtonpost.com.” Posted Dec. 19, 2011.
“Ring of Ire: Dear Prudence advises a bride who is remarrying but wants to keep wearing her old ring—during a live chat at Washingtonpost.com.” Posted Dec. 12, 2011.
Update, Feb. 21, 2013: This column previously included an animated video of a Dear Prudence letter titled "Girl With an Endless Appetite," in which a child is portrayed as a pig. After consideration, the video has been removed.