DEAR ABBY: I’m a 20- year-old college student with a great job, life ambitions and parents who love me. They raised me to think for myself and follow my dreams.

I didn’t date much in high school, but a few months ago I met a wonderful young man who is in the Army. Two things about this relationship are different: First, we met on the Internet, communicated online for several weeks, then took the next step to meet in person. The second is, “Jack” is 10 years older than I am and has a son from a previous marriage.

Jack is stationed not far from me. When I met him, I realized he was everything a woman could want. I did a background check and everything he told me is true. He supports me fully in pursuing my degree and my future career. But I’m afraid to introduce him to my parents because they’re old-fashioned. They are leery about people meeting on the Internet. They also want me to meet a guy closer to my age.

The more Jack and I are together, the more I realize how much I love him. I want to introduce the man I love to my family. How do I proceed with this? I am scared that my parents won’t accept Jack. How can I get them to accept my choice?

DETERMINED IN THE SOUTHWEST

DEAR DETERMINED: Your relationship with Jack appears to be progressing at warp speed. If you want your parents to accept him, you must give them an opportunity to get to know him — and the same applies to you because this romance is fresh.

As you communicate with your parents, start mentioning Jack. Tell them he is a member of the military and how you met. Meeting someone on the Internet these days is very common and nothing to be ashamed of.

The longer you continue keeping his existence a secret, the more concerned and disappointed your parents will be when you spring him on them. They will want to meet him and you should introduce him. After that, the selling job will be his. Keep your cool. You are your parents’ little girl and always will be. But the decision of who you’ll wind up with is your own to make, not theirs.

DEAR ABBY: Most people recognize chest pain as a symptom of heart attack, as well as pain or numbness in the arm or shortness of breath. But did you know that a feeling of “doom” or back pain could also be signs of a heart attack?

An article in our local paper reported that most people do not recognize other warning signs of a heart attack. They include: a sense of doom, back pain, sweating, nausea or vomiting, dizziness or lightheadedness, weakness, fatigue or malaise, and jaw or neck pain.

My mother, age 87, who had never had back trouble and hadn’t strained her back muscles in any way, suddenly developed back pain that the usual over-the-counter pain pills couldn’t stop. Two days later, the pain moved to her chest, and that’s when we took her to the emergency room. We would have gotten her there two days sooner if anyone had told us that heart attack pain could begin in the back. Please, Abby, let your readers know these other symptoms.

THANKFUL READER IN OKLAHOMA

DEAR THANKFUL: Forewarned is forearmed. I’m printing your helpful letter for all to see. Thank you for wanting to alert others to the sometimes subtle warning signs of a heart attack. Your warning may have saved some lives today.

DEAR ABBY: When I was 12, my family moved to New Jersey. It was a difficult time in my life. Lucky for me, I made a best friend across the street, “Janie.” We spent all our time together. I loved being at her house because it was a happy one, unlike my own home. (My mom was erratic and unhappy, and it affected our whole family.)

A year later, Janie learned her family would be moving to Ohio. I was devastated. The day the moving truck came, Janie and I were inseparable. The driver was a young man in his 20s named Randy.

When Janie and her family left in their car, I sat on the curb outside my house sobbing. When the loading crew finished, Randy started the truck, then turned off the engine. He got out and came and sat beside me on the curb and told me how someday my pain would lessen.

He said I was a special person, and shared a little about his own family who was far away. Then he took a ring off his finger and said he wanted me to have it. It was a Marines ring his grandfather had given to him. He insisted I take it, gave me a hug and drove off.

When I went into my house and my mother saw the ring, she said, “What did you do to get THAT?” It made me feel dirty and I didn’t understand why. So I sent the ring to Janie and asked her to please return it to Randy, which she did.

In the years that have followed, that man’s generosity and compassion have stayed with me. It helped me to believe in myself when things in my family seemed dark. Since then, when I have seen people who were hurting, I have tried to do what Randy did — make them feel better.

Sadly, I have never known how to find him to thank him. Randy: Wherever you are, please know how much of a difference your kindness made in my life.

STILL GRATEFUL IN TEXAS

DEAR STILL GRATEFUL: You are living proof that what goes around comes around. One simple act of kindness made an impact on your life, but you have multiplied it many times over by continuing to pass it on.


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