Dear Annie: Reaching out and touching nothing
Dear Annie: My husband of 44 years passed away from Alzheimer’s disease six years ago. I was a widow when I met him and had three small children, a son and two daughters. He had been divorced for 2 1/2 years and also had three children from a previous marriage, two sons and a daughter. The two boys came to live with us. The daughter, “Alice,” stayed with her mother.
Alice kept in close touch as long as we were supporting her financially. We noticed she seemed to be jealous of my children, especially my daughters. We tried to include her in all of our family gatherings. But after she got married — with a big church wedding that we paid for — we didn’t hear from her very much. We didn’t even get so much as a phone call from her on my husband’s birthday or on Father’s Day.
A while back, my husband had a heart attack and was not allowed visitors in the hospital aside from me. Alice went into a rage. She told me he was her daddy and he had been taken away from her. I reminded her that I had nothing to do with their divorce. (Her mother asked for the divorce; she was having an affair.) It was very upsetting, to say the least.
Years later, toward the end of my husband’s life, I let Alice know when he was put on hospice. She made one visit to see him. She lived an hour and a half away.
I’ve not seen her since my husband’s death. I have sent notes and tried to stay in touch. Her brothers passed away several years ago, and she was in contact with me about their assets, but that’s all. When I heard her mother passed away, I sent a sympathy card.
My husband realized Alice did not really want to be a part of our lives (he even said, “I know she doesn’t really care about me”), but he was such a wonderful father I felt that I should try keeping in touch with her out of respect for him. She doesn’t have any children. Should I keep trying to stay in touch or just give up? — A Stepmother
Dear Stepmother: It is sad that Alice has used you as an emotional scapegoat for all these years, and it’s sadder still that she’s denying herself the love of a family member when she has no other family left.
You’ve reached out and given her many chances to build a good relationship with you. Maybe one day she’ll come to her senses and want to reconnect. But until then, allow yourself to move on. Your husband wouldn’t want to see you repeatedly hurt by his daughter’s rejections.
Dear Annie: You recently provided a very useful list of what a gentleman should wear to a wedding or event based on the dress code listed on the invitation. Could you do the same for women, please? — Mary Lou
Dear Mary Lou: If it’s a “white tie” event, dress as if you were headed to the Oscars -- with a full-length ballgown and carefully styled hair. For “black tie” outings, go with a long evening gown or an elegant black cocktail dress. If it’s “formal,” stick with a chic cocktail dress or long evening gown. “Semiformal” or “cocktail” means a cocktail dress. For a “casual” wedding, go with a sundress or dressy blouse and skirt. When in doubt, ask the host.
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