DEAR ABBY: My family has been keeping a secret from my grandmother. I have a 17-month-old daughter that she doesn’t know exists. I wanted to tell my grandma from the start about her great-granddaughter (her first), but I am afraid to. My family thinks that telling her will cause too much stress on her. NO one in the family takes my feelings into consideration.
I think my grandmother should know she’s a great-grandma. The problem is, I don’t know how to tell her. She’s 90 years old. I’m afraid if I say something now, it really MIGHT be too stressful for her. Also, I’m afraid that if I reveal this secret, it will start a family feud.
I want a relationship with my grandma like I used to have. I cry every time I talk to her on the phone because I have to lie to her about my day-to-day life and why I can’t come to see her. I am really starting to resent my family. Please help. — SECRET MOMMY IN NEVADA
DEAR SECRET MOMMY: Your grandmother wasn’t born yesterday; she’s 90. I’m sure that in her decades of living she has seen plenty of life.
While she will probably be shocked that she was kept in the dark this long, I agree she should know the truth. She should also know that you love her, which is why you are telling her the news. She may or may not want to see her great-grandchild, but the choice should be hers.
DEAR ABBY: I’m in my 70s, married for 50 years. I worked outside the home for many years and earned retirement benefits. There have been many ups and downs in my life, for me personally as well as for members of my family. Of course, there have been good times, too. I feel blessed.
All my life I have been the “go-to girl” for my family as a daughter, sister, wife, mother and aunt for help or advice. I love them, but I’m tired. How do I retire my “crown,” which has been overwhelming at times, without hurting or alienating anyone?
There seem to be so many problems and only one of me. Many times I have felt stretched too thin, but now my health and energy are no longer what they once were. I’m reasonably healthy, but I’m very tired.
I value my Judeo/Christian belief of “doing unto others.” Am I being selfish? — GO-TO GIRL IN NEW MEXICO
DEAR GO-TO GIRL: Your mind and body are trying to tell you something important. I hope you will pay attention before your health suffers because it could if you don’t start drawing the line.
There is nothing selfish or wrong about saying: “I love you, but I can’t help you. I can’t because I’m at a point in my life where I can’t handle stress like I used to.” And if the person doesn’t get it, you should repeat it.
DEAR ABBY: I have a dear friend who I have been friends with for years. However, there is one thing I can’t stand about her. It’s her vulgar language. Every sentence that comes out of her mouth includes the F-word. She’s not a soft-spoken individual, so others can hear her. It embarrasses me and makes me not want to be around her in public.
How can I tell her she embarrasses me when she talks that way? — SOFT-SPOKEN FRIEND
DEAR FRIEND: Tell her in exactly the way you told me. It is kind, helpful and the truth. And please don’t feel bad about doing so because you’ll be doing your friend a favor.
DEAR ABBY: I recently lost a niece. She had struggled with substance abuse and was away at college when she died. I believed in what a wonderful person she was and could be, and often sent her cards of encouragement.
When my sister and her husband went to retrieve her belongings, they mentioned that she had my cards around her room. I had hoped that her parents would give them to me, but three months later, they have not. Would it be wrong for me to ask for them? — LOVING AUNT IN THE SOUTH
DEAR LOVING AUNT: Please accept my sympathy for your family’s loss. The cards may not have been offered because your sister and her husband are experiencing the depths of grief. While it would not be “wrong” to ask if you can have them, don’t be surprised if they refuse to let them go, at least for the time being. Having the possessions their daughter surrounded herself with may be important to them right now as a way of feeling closer to her.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.