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Miss Manners: I want to use a cane. How do I talk about it with my parents?

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Dear Miss Manners: I am a young person with recurrent hip pain, and I have considered using a mobility aid — namely, a walking cane. Since I am still young and live with my parents, I feel a bit uncomfortable at the idea of using a cane. My parents are the type to tell me to “walk it off,” even though a cane would help me a great deal with my pain.

Do you have any suggestions for some words to use when bringing up the subject with my parents? Is “Hey, this thing helps me and I’d like to use it, even if you think it’s only for the elderly” sufficient?

Actually, Miss Manners has two words for you: walking stick.

Time was when a walking stick was considered a chic accessory for both ladies and gentlemen, unrelated to any usefulness it might have provided. Take a look at antique sticks — some have built-in compasses, flasks, watches, powder compacts or, if people get really annoying, swords. You could start a new fad.

Miss Manners is not encouraging you to attack your parents. But they do need a good talking-to about your mobility being more important than ridiculous — not to mention ageist — concerns about what others think.

Dear Miss Manners: When is the proper time to give a trunk party for a college student?

When his friends, who are probably also going off to college, and your friends, who are probably paying college tuition, beg you to allow them to help furnish his dormitory room.

Dear Miss Manners: When my husband died after a long illness, I received many lovely notes. I answered them all. I was very touched by the kindness, and I felt it helped me recover from my sorrow.

When I hear of the passing of friends or their family members, I usually write to the survivors. Most write back. Some don’t respond. What is the right response to a written letter of condolence?

Exactly what your instinct told you.

Miss Manners is aware that many feel it is a burden on the bereaved to have to acknowledge expressions of sympathy. In extreme cases of grief prostration, one of the Is-There-Anything-I-Can-Do? people can be deputized to convey the survivor’s appreciation.

But it is important to acknowledge condolence letters. As you attest, it should be gratifying to know that others cared for the deceased and are sympathetic with the survivor. Writing back is a chance to represent your husband to them, in appreciation not only of their concern, but of what those people meant to him.

And ignoring them often has an unfortunate, unintended consequence. As Miss Manners has often heard from widows (never from widowers), they may be ignored socially after the first intense mourning period. This may be in part because those whose first overtures were ignored conclude that the widow wants to be left alone, and thus cease to importune her.

New Miss Manners columns are posted Monday through Saturday on washingtonpost.com/advice. You can send questions to Miss Manners at her website, missmanners.com. You can also follow her @RealMissManners.

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