DEAR ABBY: I took care of my grandmother until her death a few years ago, and now my mother is very sick. I feel angry because I'm only 23, and it seems all I have ever done is take care of sick people. I sit at the hospital sometimes just fuming.
Mom was a smoker and now she has cancer. I keep thinking if she hadn't smoked, she wouldn't be in this fix, and neither would I. I always visit her and try to do everything she asks of me, and yet I think I'm starting to hate her. I dread going to the hospital, sitting there and waiting for test results, etc. What kind of daughter has feelings like this? -- WORST DAUGHTER ON EARTH
DEAR DAUGHTER: Please stop beating yourself up. Your feelings are normal. You have a right to be angry that your mother is sick. At 23, you have had an unusual amount of responsibility thrust upon you for someone your age. That her disease has taken over your life is also a reason to be angry.
However, please stop blaming her for her illness. Right now, you need each other. And nonsmokers get cancer, too. The American Cancer Society has support groups where family members can safely share their feelings. Please check them out.
DEAR ABBY: I'm 43 and went back to school the nontraditional way. I will graduate soon with my master of human services degree. I will be the first person in my immediate family to have a degree.
My best friend thinks I'm foolish because I posed for graduation photos and ordered a class ring. She said I am too old to be having graduation pictures and a ring. I was thrilled to have them, but now I'm wondering if I really am being foolish. Am I trying to recapture the "would have/could have/should have" years? -- ED IN LOUISIANA
DEAR ED: Shame on your friend for raining on your parade. With a best friend like this, you should never forget to bring an umbrella.
You're celebrating the fact that as a nontraditional student you have earned your master's degree. That's a laudable accomplishment and deserves to be celebrated in any way you would like. Please accept my sincere congratulations, graduate!
DEAR ABBY: I love to read. I have kept every book I have read, so I probably have close to 600 books in my library, which is actually a small room, overflowing with books and nothing else.
Why do you think I can't let go of them? I lend them out to only a select few, and I always make sure they are returned. I could do lovely things with this room if my books weren't in the way, but I can't seem to part with them. -- BOOKWORM IN NEW YORK
DEAR BOOKWORM: It's probably because your books have become an extension of yourself. Because you would like to do something else with the space they occupy, sort through them and keep only the most precious ones. If there are titles you would like to read again one day, do as many others are doing -- read them on an e-reader.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
Abby shares more than 100 of her favorite recipes in two booklets: "Abby's Favorite Recipes" and "More Favorite Recipes by Dear Abby." Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $14 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Cookbooklet Set, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)