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Section: aging

Dear Ann Landers,
My mother has been a widow for several years and is now in her late 70s. She lives alone and has always been fiercely independent. She appears to be in very good health. In fact, there are days when I think she may outlive me. In recent conversations, Mom has made it plain that under no circumstances will she ever go into a retirement home. She says, "When the time comes that I cannot manage on my own, I will live with you." Ann, the thought of us living together is very upsetting. In fact, it's my worst nightmare. I love my mother dearly, but I must take time away from her every three days, or else we end up fighting. I try to visit or communicate with Mom on a daily basis because I am her only friend. Being a realist, I am certain that eventually I am going to have to place my mother in some sort of facility. She refuses to discuss the matter. Whenever I bring up the subject, she acts as if I'm trying to lock her in a dungeon. Please ask your readers who are living in retirement centers to write about their experiences. You have taught me that there can be no better teacher than someone who has been there. Perhaps your readers can help my mother see things differently. Thanks, Ann. -- T.M. in Orlando, Fla.

Dear T.M.,
Here's your letter, and I'll let you know of my readers' responses.

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"Sensual pleasures have the fleeting brilliance of a comet; a happy marriage has the tranquillity of a lovely sunset."
-Ann Landers