Monday, April 14, 2008

Pauline Phillips' Holding onto 'Dear' Life

Dear Abby,

I want to spend more time with my sick mother. She barely recognizes me, though. What's the solution? - J.P.

Dear J.P.,

Sounds like you should take over her syndicated newspaper column and then speak glowingly about your mother at any chance you get. It'll draw you two closer, even if she has trouble expressing it.

Jeanne Phillips had been co-writing Dear Abby for more than a decade before she publicly took over in 2002, when it became known that her mother was suffering from Alzheimer's disease. While some readers may have expected the quality to suffer, the younger Phillips brought her own style to the column, and it's as popular as ever - receiving more than 10,000 e-mails and letters per week.

"For a long time, as she became progressively sicker, I was writing it, and she was editing me when she could. And she was a very fine editor, so perhaps that smoothed the transition," says Jeanne Phillips.
Now that Jeanne has a steady hold on the column's reins - daily readership around the world is at roughly 110 million people - you may be wondering about her mother, Pauline.
"I miss my mother. We were very close," Phillips says. "She has Alzheimer's, and she's here, but she's not here. That's rough."
It sounds to us like a case where when the bonding gets rough, the tough get writing.

[San Francisco Chronicle]

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