Dear Annie: I am a high school student. Last year, “Ellie” invited me to her 16th birthday party, and after that, we became inseparable best friends. She was wonderful and supportive.
Lately, we have grown more and more distant. A few weeks ago, Ellie’s family had a crisis, and we took up a collection to help. I didn’t want Ellie to feel like a charity case and wanted her to see that the collection was due to compassion. She seemed thankful, but now she spends time with other friends and rarely with me. She says she is too busy to hang out and won’t answer most of my texts. But I see her Facebook posts, and she tags other friends. The funny thing is, when I tell her about things I’ve done with others, she becomes jealous.
How do I bring old Ellie back? I have other friends, but she and I used to be so close, and it’s sad to see our friendship wither. I don’t want to lose her as a friend, but I also don’t want to appear desperate. Any advice for me? — Chicago Student
Dear Student: Ellie’s distancing may have nothing to do with the collection for her family. It is not unusual for high school friendships to change. Try talking to her. Say that you miss the closeness you once had, and ask how to warm things up again. But understand that Ellie may simply feel that a different crowd is more to her liking at this point in time. And if that is the case, you will simply need to let her go.
Dear Annie: When my stepmother died, my husband and I took Dad to live with us. Dad was 90, used a walker and could not be left alone for more than a few hours. He died at home three years later.
During this time, I expected we’d get offers of help from my two sisters, but it didn’t happen. When I asked my oldest sister to postpone her summer trip and stay with Dad so my husband and I could attend our daughter’s college graduation, she refused. There were other occasions when I had to beg for help and was turned down. In three years, my sister took care of Dad for all of six weeks. My other sister stayed with Dad once for three days.
I realize I should have had this discussion with my sisters when I first took Dad to live with me. Instead, I am filled with resentment, and our sibling relationship has suffered.
Many of your readers will someday be the caregiver of an elderly parent. Please remind them to have “the conversation” with their family before they make my mistake. I am seeing a therapist to help me work through my resentment, but I have a long way to go. — Just Venting
Dear Venting: Our condolences on this entire situation. You are right that these arrangements should be hashed out in advance, knowing that some children are unwilling or unable to be caregivers. We hope readers in this situation will check out eldercare.gov or the Family Caregiver Alliance (caregiver.org) for information on respite care.
Dear Annie: I read the letter from “Disappointed Dad,” whose children accused him of being cheap.
Your older readers might remember that cans of scouring powders used to come with six little holes on the lid that you punched out yourself. My mother only punched out three. Later, the same brand came out with the holes already opened, with a little plastic adhesive circle covering them. Mom would carefully tear off only half of the circle.
Years later, I was teasing her about this, and she gave me a level look and said, “I put you through college, didn’t I?” She had me there! — A Graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 Third St., Hermosa Beach, CA 90254.