Dear Annie: I have been friends with “Missy” for a long time. She hates her husband’s sister and hasn’t allowed them to speak to each other for years. The sister is not allowed to come anywhere near Missy’s house. Last year, things got worse.
Missy has five grown children. Four of them remain in touch with “Aunt Martha.” As a result, three months ago, Missy sent them letters stating she was no longer going to be a mother, grandmother or great-grandmother to their families. For some reason, she is still close to the fifth child, even though that one also talks to Aunt Martha.
This makes me so sad. I attended her granddaughter’s bridal shower, and Missy wasn’t there. The granddaughter’s wedding is next month. Missy and her husband are the only grandparents this child has, and they won’t attend.
I don’t care if Missy dislikes her sister-in-law, but I cannot fathom how she can take it out on her grandchildren. I think she needs professional help. She is missing out on so much. She has taken her husband’s family away from him, and he won’t stand up to her. They aren’t young anymore, and I would hate for something to happen to them without this getting resolved.
I feel terrible about this situation and don’t know whether there is anything I can do. I’m afraid if I say anything, I will lose her friendship.
— Feeling Helpless
Dear Helpless: You are right that Missy could use professional help. She is drowning in bitterness and anger and taking it out on everyone around her instead of dealing with her issues. We also feel sorry for her spineless husband, who should have stood up to his wife long ago and now risks losing everyone he loves.
There’s not much you can do to remedy this. You could gently ask Missy whether it’s worth losing her children and grandchildren. Should Missy bemoan her relationships to you, first recommend that she talk to her doctor (sometimes these extreme personality issues are due to medical problems), and then suggest that she and the kids go together for family counseling.
Dear Annie: You sometimes print readers’ pet peeves. Here’s mine:
I cringe every time I hear “Waddya got,” ”I don’t got,” ”I got” and so forth. Whatever happened to the words “going” and “have”?
It’s one thing to hear “ain’t” and “ain’t got” all the time in popular songs. But it really kills me to hear TV professionals speaking improperly. Have we become so lazy that everything we hear is acceptable?
— Albany, N.Y.
Dear Albany: Language, particularly English, is a fluid entity. It changes over time. Words once considered slang become standard. Made-up words enter the lexicon. Some of these adaptations are beneficial. Others, not so much. One would hope that professional broadcasters would be more circumspect about proper language, but too many people, including professionals and those who write for them, are unaware of exactly what that means. What isn’t taught and reinforced, in school and in life, becomes forgotten.
Dear Annie: This is for “Heartbroken in Florida”: My condolences on the loss of your husband to the devastating disease of alcoholism. Please know there is hope for a serene and happy life regardless of your current circumstances. Consider attending at least six Al-Anon meetings, a support group for family members and friends who live or have lived with alcohol abuse. I did this years ago.
You can contact Al-Anon at al-anon.org or through their toll-free number for group meeting information at 1-888-4Al-Anon (1-888-425-2666).
— Extremely Grateful in Wisconsin
Dear Grateful: Thank you for the useful suggestion. We hope it helps.
Annie’s snippet for Income Tax Day: The nation should have a tax system that looks like someone designed it on purpose.
— William Simon
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