Dear Annie: I have a sister who is 10 years older. “Doris” lives in a retirement hotel, and we speak often on the phone and see each other once a month or so.
Recently, my oldest son told me he saw Doris dining in a posh restaurant. Even though I have since spoken to Doris, she never mentioned seeing my son. When I finally asked her why she hadn’t told me, she tried to make excuses that he was with business associates, but it still didn’t make sense that she never told me he was there.
I know she has kept secrets about other people, and when I’d find out from someone else, she would apologize. But why can’t she be open and trustworthy? My husband and I try to be considerate and helpful. We take her shopping, but she is always frustrated and negative. She never was a happy person to begin with, but lately she seems worse. Instead of being grateful for her good health, she complains and is inconsolable. Shall I just accept how she is and pretend all is well? I have no desire to share anything with her anymore. — Disgruntled in Calif.
Dear Disgruntled: There may be another reason why Doris neglected to mention your son’s appearance: She forgot. There seems to be no ulterior motive in keeping it a secret, so we think these things simply slide out of her head, and that’s why she doesn’t mention them. As she gets older, this is likely to happen more often. Her complaining, unfortunately, may be part of her personality. You could suggest she see her doctor for a checkup and also propose that she concentrate on the good things in her life. You are one of those. Please try to accept her as she is.
Dear Annie: We recently hosted an early holiday, and I am still upset with the behavior of my husband’s 42-year-old niece.
My husband has had some major medical issues. He’s doing fine with medication, but he has trouble learning new things, including how to work a complicated cellphone. His family knows all this. My husband opted for a flip phone that’s easy for him to understand and use, but it’s hardly the latest thing.
During the visit, another family member called his phone to say hello. As we passed the phone around, someone accidentally disconnected us, and we had to start over. This niece made fun of the phone in front of the entire family and seemed intent on embarrassing him.
My husband is the most special person in my life, and it hurt to see this 42-year-old brat make fun of him. To me, this “teasing” is rude and thoughtless. Am I being oversensitive? How should I address her nasty comments in the future? — Miffed
Dear Miffed: You do seem a bit oversensitive. Teasing someone about a phone is not particularly personal, and we doubt the niece connected it to your husband’s medical issues, although you obviously did. The best response to this type of thing is to laugh. If she is looking to get a rise out of you, that will put a stop to it.
Dear Annie: “New York” was upset because her aunt said she was unreasonable for not attending a destination wedding. You said, “If you cannot afford to attend, it’s OK to decline.”
I don’t think it’s a matter of being able to afford it. The couple getting married is asking a great deal in terms of time and money. Even if your finances permit such things, it’s unfair for people to be expected to attend. — Been There
Dear Been There: One does not need any excuse to send regrets for a wedding. But if it’s close family, one might wish to make more of an effort to attend, no matter where it is.
To all our Jewish readers: Happy Chanukah!
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.