Dear Annie: My mother recently decided to sell her house and move into a senior living complex. As a result, she needed to downsize.
My sister, “Liz,” came for a visit and made a list of things she wanted, and not really caring about the material things, I wrote down a few items I wanted as remembrances. Liz decided to ship some of her things back home, and she and my mother gave the rest to my wife. My wife was so pleased, as this made her feel closer to the family.
Unfortunately, at Liz’s next visit, she borrowed my truck, went to a party and drove back completely intoxicated. When she asked to borrow the truck the next time, I said no and told her why. She replied that she wasn’t drunk – she’d had only three or four margaritas and maybe five glasses of wine.
The next day, Liz demanded we return the things she gave my wife. She called again the next night, intoxicated, and screamed that we were “stealing her inheritance” and demanded that we return the items or pay for them.
My wife and I decided to give Liz back the stuff she wants and write her off. But, Annie, what right does she have to demand that we give back gifts we were given freely? My mom refuses to get involved, which essentially means she is siding with my sister. My wife is so deeply hurt by this that it has ruined her relationship with my mother. What should we do? – Wronged in South Dakota
Dear S.D.: Liz is punishing you for noticing that she has an alcohol problem. Shame on Mom for not having the courage to tell her daughter to knock it off and get some help. Please explain to her why this is so hurtful. Still, Liz was under no obligation to give you those items, and returning them is the only way for this to end. We hope Mom will give your wife something else of equal emotional significance so she once again feels like a valued member of the family.