Dear Abby: My father, who has been gone for 40 years, had many good qualities, and he provided well for our family. I loved him and treasure many of the memories I have of my time with him. However, his deep-seated lechery overwhelmed his life and destroyed what might have been an idyllic ’50s youth for me. It caused great pain and embarrassment to my mother, my sister and me.
I recently received communication from four different half-sisters I didn’t know of who discovered our kinship through DNA tracking. I am indisposed to a reunion. I may have felt differently at one time, but I am 81 now. I no longer travel and am leaning more toward releasing relationships than making new ones. My wife has had a stroke, so we pretty much confine our entertaining to our children and grandchildren.
I deeply regret any pain my father’s libidinous nature has caused, but I am not inclined to spend time dealing with the results of his affairs. I don’t want to be cold. They seem nice, but it’s too late in the game for me. Do you agree? – Ancient History
Dear History: I do agree. Because your father’s flings caused you, your mother and your sister pain and embarrassment, I see no reason for you to engage with these people if you don’t wish to. That said, if they have questions about your father’s medical history that could be relevant to them, consider providing the answers.
Dear Abby: My brother and his wife have been married for 40 years. They moved out of state 10 years ago. We no longer get together for holidays, and the only time I talk to my brother is when it concerns our parents (whom I take care of).
Two years ago, my sister-in-law informed me that she never really cared for me and has issues with my family. When I asked her why, she accused me of being a liar. I don’t know why she feels this way. I talked to my brother about it, and his answer was vague.
Although my sister-in-law has issues, she still wants to exchange birthday and Christmas presents. I am finding it difficult to purchase a gift for someone who doesn’t care for me. Is there a nice way to say I no longer want to exchange gifts and would rather we just exchange cards? I don’t want to cause another family feud. – Curtailing in California
Dear Curtailing: You should have stopped the gift exchange two years ago when your sister-in-law told you she had never really cared for you. Tell your brother you no longer feel the joy in it that you did before his wife told you what she did and that you would prefer to send cards from now on. Don’t worry about causing another family feud. Your family is already fractured, and I doubt that once your parents are gone, he and his wife will be sticking around, so don’t be surprised when it happens. You are a good daughter, and you have my sympathy.