Dear Annie: I have a sister who is 10 years older. “Doris” lives in a retirement hotel, and we speak often on the phone and see each other once a month or so.
Recently, my oldest son told me he saw Doris dining in a posh restaurant. Even though I have since spoken to Doris, she never mentioned seeing my son. When I finally asked her why she hadn’t told me, she tried to make excuses that he was with business associates, but it still didn’t make sense that she never told me he was there.
I know she has kept secrets about other people, and when I’d find out from someone else, she would apologize. But why can’t she be open and trustworthy? My husband and I try to be considerate and helpful. We take her shopping, but she is always frustrated and negative. She never was a happy person to begin with, but lately she seems worse. Instead of being grateful for her good health, she complains and is inconsolable. Shall I just accept how she is and pretend all is well? I have no desire to share anything with her anymore. – Disgruntled in Calif.
Dear Disgruntled: There may be another reason why Doris neglected to mention your son’s appearance: She forgot. There seems to be no ulterior motive in keeping it a secret, so we think these things simply slide out of her head, and that’s why she doesn’t mention them. As she gets older, this is likely to happen more often. Her complaining, unfortunately, may be part of her personality. You could suggest she see her doctor for a checkup and also propose that she concentrate on the good things in her life. You are one of those. Please try to accept her as she is.
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