Dear Annie: My 58-year-old mother has a best friend whom she has known since they were both 5 years old. We call her “Aunt Marsha.” She’s been at all of our weddings and holidays. She is still friendly with her ex-daughter-in-law, who happens to be a good friend of mine.
In years past, when Aunt Marsha has a male companion in her life, she typically falls off the face of the Earth. Recently, she found a new guy who happens to be married, so her communication with us is limited.
Right now, Aunt Marsha is upset with both my mother and me because her ex-daughter-in-law was in town with her new husband and daughter, and they stayed with me. Aunt Marsha knew about the visit, and I told her if we planned any family events, I would let her know. However, when my friend arrived with her family, she said that having her ex-mother-in-law in attendance at dinner would be awkward. So I did not invite Aunt Marsha.
When my mother next saw Marsha, she mentioned how nice it was to see my friend, and of course, Aunt Marsha was miffed that she wasn’t included. After several attempts to contact my aunt, I received an email that she was upset and hurt, and that she had waited around for a phone call to be invited over and it never came. She said, “I know it is your house and your company, but my feelings are hurt.”
Annie, I never intended to hurt her. It’s just how things worked out. But she still hasn’t spoken to either my mother or me in six months. She ignores my mother’s calls, cards and attempts to reach out. It’s possible that when her current male companion is out of the picture, she will come running to us for support, as usual. But in the meantime, what can I do to help my mother? She misses her best friend.
— Omaha, Neb.
Dear Omaha: You actually owe Marsha an apology. You promised to include her, and then you didn’t, nor did you let her know. We realize it was your friend who changed the plans, but you still should have informed Marsha. Instead, she felt excluded from your family. That said, she is being rather unforgiving and pigheaded about it. If you haven’t apologized, please do so. The rest will simply have to run its course.
Dear Annie: My husband and I agree that it is bad behavior to use one’s cellphone while in the company of others, unless it’s an emergency. However, he even thinks someone looking up information or showing pictures is rude. I disagree. He also feels justified in saying something to the offending party. I think it’s best to say nothing and simply not go out with them again. It’s too embarrassing to everyone. What is your take on this?
— Tired of Arguing
Dear Tired: Showing pictures on your phone to people at the table is not rude unless it turns into a slide show. Looking up information is fine as long as it is pertinent, such as checking the time of the movie you are planning to see. It is also OK to speak up when someone talks or texts incessantly. Say politely, “Could we make this a cell-free zone for the duration?” If they refuse, then you can stop going out with them.
Dear Annie: I read the letter from “Waiting,” who doesn’t like it when the bank tellers chitchat with the customers. I enjoy the personal touch and suggest that those who don’t use the ATM instead.
— Louisville, Ky.
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