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Annie’s Mailbox: It’s worth trying to patch things up

Dear Annie: Nearly 20 years ago, I was convicted of drunk driving and given a year’s probation. My brother, “Joe,” immediately cut off all contact. I got treatment for my drinking problem and have been sober ever since. I know Joe was hurt and embarrassed by what I did, and I would like to make amends. I have sent him Christmas and birthday cards wishing him well, but have never received a response. I was not invited to his wedding, and now I have a sister-in-law and two nephews I have never met. My parents are in poor health, and I fear my next meeting with Joe will be at their funeral. Mom says I should wait for Joe to contact me, but since that has not happened, I feel I should make another effort to let him know I am sorry. I want to bury the hatchet. Any advice? – Midwest Brother

Dear Midwest: Joe seems very unforgiving. You cannot force him to contact you, but it is OK to try periodically. We assume your parents have informed Joe that you have been sober and responsible for the past 20 years. We also hope they have encouraged him to give you another chance. Please ask them to find out what it would take for Joe to consider you his brother again.

Dear Annie: My husband and I also read about the “pass the piggy” game in your column and thought it was a great idea for our manners- challenged 5- and 3-year-old boys. The next day, we bought a cute little pink plastic pig, explained its purpose and commenced dinner. The boys competed eagerly to see who could have the worst manners and win the pig. The next day, we changed our approach and awarded the pig to displays of good manners. That brought about so many demands for recognition of good manners that no other dinner conversation was possible. We have since retired the pig to a sideboard where it reminds us that where our boys are concerned, there are no easy fixes. – Lana from Torrance, Calif.