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Dear Abby: My boyfriend of four years, “Joey,” is a kind and loving person. Recently the father of one of his close childhood friends died. We live a plane ride away, and Joey could not get time off work to attend the services. I assumed Joey called his friend and family to extend his sympathies. During our last visit home, I found out he had not reached out to them. I’m upset that he didn’t, and I know the friend was deeply hurt by it. At this point, what can Joey do to make things right? Why wouldn’t he make the call in the first place?

– Smoothing It Over in San Antonio

Dear Smoothing It Over: Joey may not have reached out because he didn’t know what to do, which would have been to call and extend his condolences or send a card or handwritten note. He may have procrastinated because he didn’t know what to say and was afraid he’d say the wrong thing.

The way to fix this would be for Joey to pick up the phone, apologize to his friend for not calling sooner, and confess that he knows he was wrong for not doing so. All he needs to say after that is that he’s sorry for his friend’s loss, which he knows must have been painful. Then he should be quiet and listen.

Mom is always late

Dear Abby: My mother is in her mid-50s. She’s a wonderful woman, but she makes us late for everything. My husband and children, my siblings and I often attend family functions and other events as a group.

When we go to pick up Mom, she announces she has “just a few” chores she wants to do first, and they take forever. We are not “a few” minutes late; we’re significantly late, and sometimes miss events altogether. These have included weddings and funerals, and we have wasted hundreds of dollars on tickets to missed events. She’ll often make a show of apologizing, but her behavior never changes. We have stopped inviting Mom to some events, but she makes us feel guilty if we don’t take her to a family event.

We have asked her friends about this behavior. They say she never pulls these stunts when they pick her up for things. When we talk to Mom about it, she insists she needs to get things done ahead of time. She’s in good mental and physical health. We’re fresh out of ideas on how to deal with this. Help!

– Late For A Very Important Date

Dear Late: It’s interesting that your mother doesn’t behave this way with her friends. That tells me her behavior is controlling – although it’s hard to understand what perverse pleasure she gets out of it.

I would handle it this way: Tell Mama you will pick her up at a certain time and that you will wait no longer than five minutes for her. If she’s not out by then, you will leave. And then DO it.