Dear Annie: My brother was divorced more than a year ago. Of course, it was extremely difficult for his family, but slowly, life is moving forward. My mother is the one who is not getting over it. In the past year, she has grown into one of the most bitter people I know. She used to be fun, positive and easygoing. Now she detests her former daughter-in-law and makes no bones about it.
Their children hear her speak negatively about their mother all the time. Mom also no longer lets minor disagreements or differences of opinion roll off her back. If anyone crosses her in any way, intentionally or otherwise, she will stop speaking to them. She has even cut off a few close family members.
I’m worried because Mom seems like a different person. I barely know her these days, and it’s hard to be around her. Is there any way to get the old version back?
— Where’s My Mother?
Dear Where: A certain amount of anger and bitterness is not an unusual reaction to a child’s difficult divorce. But it is unlikely that your brother’s marital problems changed your mother’s personality. Either there was an underlying problem, or the stress provoked an overreaction that she has been unable to control. She might even have had a small stroke. Please urge her to see her doctor for a complete checkup. Offer to go with her so you can make sure the doctor understands the problem.
Dear Annie: Our grandchild is getting married this summer in another state. My husband has anger management problems worsened by alcohol. He was very careful at the first family wedding and handled himself well. However, this time our son-in-law has told me that while I am “always welcome,” my husband is not, and they don’t want him at this wedding.
I have not yet told my husband about their demand. How do I approach this? I certainly cannot go if he asks me to stay home with him. What do I tell the grandchild who is getting married? I love this girl. I have been placed in an impossible situation, and it’s heartbreaking for me. What do I do?
— In the Middle
Dear Middle: If your husband has a serious problem with alcohol, you cannot expect him to be welcomed at major family events, no matter how well behaved he was the last time. You must tell him that, sadly, he is not invited to the wedding. If he is gracious, he will insist that you go without him. You don’t have to tell your granddaughter anything other than whether or not you are attending. Additional clarification is up to her parents. But either way, please send your warmest wishes to the bride and groom.
Dear Annie: I disagree with your advice to “Some Etiquette, Please” about a hostess asking that a dish be brought to a party. Potluck parties are becoming more popular in these economic times.
I live in an affluent neighborhood, and we all can afford to cater parties if we so choose, but we have potluck parties all the time. It fosters a sense of community and giving. We all make a special dish, and it is fun to see what each person brings. It also takes some of the burden off the hostess.
— Toluca Lake
Dear Toluca: We have no objection to potluck parties. They are fun and informal, and the obligations of the participants are stated in advance and agreed to. But to send out invitations to your own party and then demand that responding guests bring a dish of the hostess’s choosing is not a “potluck party.” It’s taking advantage of your guests.
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Email your questions to [email protected], or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. To find out more about Annie’s Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
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