Dear Annie: I have an old and close friend I’ve known for 50 years. We live far apart, and the only way to talk is by telephone.
Over the past several years, my friend has started to suddenly interrupt our calls when there is a click on the line signaling another call. He will announce midsentence that he has another call coming in that he has to take and then abruptly hang up. He interrupts himself this way as often as he does me. It happens virtually every time we talk, no matter what time it is.
I thought a solution to this might be to ask him to call me when it is convenient for him. That has not stopped this rudeness; he does this even when he has placed the call.
I am at my wits’ end and cannot think of a solution short of writing off the friendship. This behavior is very much outside his normal character, which makes it all the more frustrating.
Any ideas on tactfully dealing with this problem? — I Wasn’t Finished
Dear I Wasn’t Finished: Don’t write off the friendship before you’ve told your friend how you feel. You should at least let him know these abrupt goodbyes bother you and give him the chance to say his piece. This is a hunch, but is it possible you’ve not taken verbal cues — such as “Well, it’s getting late” or “I should let you go” — that he’d like to end the call? He may be using call waiting as a quick way out. After all, with 50 years’ worth of stories, I’m sure you two could talk for hours.
Dear Annie: I have read in your column numerous letters from families who, for various reasons, do not have any caring grandparents or other close relatives in their children’s lives (for example, the recent letter from “Protective Husband”). My husband and I had the same problem.
Rather than see our children miss out on the benefits of having grandparents, we carefully observed older friends and neighbors and adopted “chosen” grandparents for our children. Whenever we moved, the process began again, to the benefit of both families. There were always many jobs that each family could do for the other. And the “grandparents” never felt that life was passing them by or that there was no one for them to call on when they needed help with minor repairs, yardwork, heavy lifting or technical problems that can perplex older minds.
Our chosen grandmother was a widow whose biological grandchildren lived in other states. I was finishing my bachelor’s degree at the time, and she was truly a wonderful blessing to our family. She would ask what I was fixing for supper and then offer to cook it and eat with us and watch my youngest do his homework, all while I finished my assignments. She was a real saint who enabled me to have the time to study and graduate with honors. Then I became an award-winning schoolteacher for 39 years, which I might not have been able to do without her help decades before.
Please look around and choose carefully. And remember that all family members do not have to be biological relatives. —Blessed by My “Chosen” Family Members
Dear Blessed: It sounds as if she loved having your children in her life, too. What a wonderful idea.
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