Dear Abby: Hospital worker is stunned by stepfather's appearance

photo Jeanne Phillips

DEAR ABBY: I saw something shocking, and I need help. While working at my job at a hospital, I saw the man my mother is married to. He was there for an appointment. He did not see me, and I didn't have the courage to approach him because he was dressed as a woman. There is no mistaking it was him.

I don't know how to even begin to handle this. He has always been wonderful, especially to my mom. I am afraid if I don't tell her, she will find out and be destroyed, and if I do tell her, the same thing will happen. What do I do? - HURT AND CONFUSED

DEAR HURT: Talk to your mother's husband - who may be a cross-dresser or have gender identity issues - about the fact that you saw him and give him a chance to explain. Do not be surprised if he tells you your mother is aware that he dresses this way some of the time.

DEAR ABBY: My husband was previously married for five years and had been widowed shortly before we met. He and his late wife had matching tattoo wedding bands. They had agreed they'd both be cremated upon their demise and that eventually they would be "reunited" by combining their ashes after his death.

My question is, what can we do to honor our marriage vows without removing the tattoo that will be respectful yet completely our own symbol of our vows? Secondly, I'm uncomfortable with the combining of their ashes. I'm 48 years old, and he is 44, so we have the potential for many more years of marriage than they had, but I do not want to completely dismiss her memory. What should I do about this? - SECOND WIFE IN THE MIDWEST

DEAR WIFE: You could honor your wedding vows by wearing matching wedding rings. As for the "ashes" promise, talk to your husband about what his wishes currently are should he predecease you. He may have changed his mind about combining his ashes with hers - or not. If the two of you are together longer than he was with his first wife, his feelings on the subject may change.

DEAR ABBY: My son got married a little over a year ago. They have a new baby. They are heavily in debt. He works full time plus a job on Saturday. She could work as a substitute teacher but prefers to stay at home with the baby.

I'm concerned about my son working so much. She brought indebtedness into this marriage. She agreed to work and now she doesn't. It doesn't seem fair to our boy. He's very kind and has a sensitive heart. Should I say something? - CONCERNED MOM

DEAR CONCERNED: It may not seem fair, but do not insert yourself into this situation. Your "boy" is now an adult, and it's important that you let him speak up for himself. If you interfere - even though you are trying to help - you will come across as overbearing, which may cost you a relationship with your daughter-in-law and your grandchild.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

Good advice for everyone - teens to seniors - is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)