While I'm away, readers give the advice. On people who get pushy about how their gifts are used:
My father was adopted from an orphanage at age 5. Family lore has it that his new father bought him a trike, then was upset and angry when my dad didn't immediately want to ride it.
Fast-forward 60 years. I am visiting my parents with my 10-month-old son, Ted. My father, also Ted, arrives home from work. On the way, he stopped at a yard sale and bought a used "corn-popper" toy. Senior Ted pulls out toy and demonstrates it a few times. Junior Ted watches, then continues what he had been doing: looking at the leaves above him. Senior Ted sits down next to his grandson, and watches the leaves with him for a while.
My dad was a very wise man. My sons were fortunate to have him as their grandfather.
On the idea that "she would be perfect if she would lose some weight":
The body you have at 30 is not the body you will have at 50, 60 or 70. I am sure my husband would love me to have the body I had when I was 25, but after four children and several serious illnesses, I don't. I hate to mention this, but he also doesn't have the same body he had 30 years ago. Nor the nice full head of hair!
We have had more than 30 years of peaks and valleys. Both of my parents have died - my father had a long, lingering illness. Our kids have had broken bones and illnesses. We got through.
You do not know what is in store - a stray microbe, a patch of oil on the street, and one of you could be disabled. It is how you meet these challenges together that matters.
On beauty and people's reactions to it:
My little sister was so beautiful that strangers stopped us to comment. One woman then looked at me and said, "This one has an interesting face." At 80 years of age, I wonder if it impacted my life; I never forgot.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org. Chat online at 10 a.m. Fridays at www.washingtonpost.com.