Dear Annie: Thirty-two years ago, my ex left me for another woman. He was verbally abusive and denigrated the children and me every chance he had. People did not realize what I went through during my marriage. I remarried 23 years ago, and the children are now grown adults. I have no contact with my ex at all unless it involves a major event for our kids, such as a graduation or wedding.
Here’s the problem: In the past three years, my sisters have begun asking my ex and his new wife (that same Other Woman) to our family get-togethers, including bridal showers and my nephew’s wedding. In turn, my ex has invited my siblings to their family gatherings, including holiday celebrations.
My husband and I cannot understand why my siblings would invite my ex and his wife to family events after all these years. Because of this, we have not attended any family gatherings, which hurts my 84-year-old mother. I have explained to her why we don’t show up when we suspect my ex will be present. We always make up for it by visiting her the day before or after.
Annie, I do not want to see my ex or his wife at family functions. They are not family. Two of my sisters have been divorced. I asked whether they would like it if I invited their ex-husbands to my family events. They assured me they will stop.
My mother’s birthday is coming up, and my husband and I have decided to go to the party at a restaurant. If my ex shows up, we will leave. Am I wrong not to want to see him anymore? Why do my siblings do this?
— Hurt Feelings
Dear Hurt: It’s possible your siblings do this because they think your children would like it. Ask. But when they include your ex, they are saying they prefer his company to yours, which we agree is terribly hurtful, not only to you, but to your mother, and you should let them know. Regardless, they get to invite whomever they choose, and you get to decide whether or not to attend.
Dear Annie: For us older folks looking into senior homes, there’s a major gap. We’ve found that while nursing homes get state oversight, senior residences usually are exempt from such scrutiny. However, since many senior citizens have restricted diets, that premise is cruel. Few seniors truly know about food content. Menus fail to specify which items are high-carb or high-sodium.
We need to advocate to close that gap. Since many of your readers have elders in their family, let’s seek their help.
— Salemtowne, Ore.
Dear Oregon: Senior residences are not all alike. While some oversight should exist to prevent abuses, seniors who are capable of living independently are presumed to be able to handle their own diets. The point of a senior residence is to provide community, activities, transportation and the luxury of having housekeeping assistance and cooked meals. If there is a special diet, most places will try to comply, but you have to tell them and keep tabs on it. Children of seniors who live in these places and believe their parents need nutritional supervision should look into it. And seniors who are considering retirement residences should check out such amenities before making a decision about where to live.
Dear Annie: Recently you advised a grieving widower to ask his doctor to recommend a grief counselor.
Many hospices also offer grief counseling to the community, even if you are not connected to a hospice patient. They also offer support groups for people grieving children, parents, spouses or partners. The service is free, although donations are always welcome.
I am a volunteer at a wonderful hospice, and our grief counselors are outstanding — and busy.
— Volunteer at Hospice of the Piedmont, N.C.
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to email@example.com, 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.
— Creators Syndicate Inc.