Dear Annie: My younger sister, “Debbie,” and I used to be best friends. We went out together, worked together and even looked alike, despite our age difference.
When Debbie was going through a divorce, I mistakenly took her and her children into my home. Want to know how she showed her appreciation? She had an affair with my husband. She confessed when my husband and I were going through our own divorce.
After years of therapy, I am quite happy now and have no desire to remain in contact with my sister. In fact, Debbie has continued her deceptive and selfish ways, and the entire family has broken off contact with her.
My family has had several tragic deaths lately. When my father recently died, Debbie inherited some money and possessions, but never once expressed sorrow to the rest of us. I think it shows her lack of family values. Is there any way for her to change? Is there any help for her? – Connecticut
Dear Connecticut: After Debbie’s double-dealing, we are impressed that you are still trying to make her part of the family again. Your sister can change only if she is willing to get some counseling and work on what’s behind her behavior. While she doesn’t sound ready quite yet, there is always hope that she will reach that point some day.
It’s possible that maintaining minimal contact will provide a pretext for Debbie to return to the fold. However, we can understand if that is too painful for you.
Dear Annie: I want to get word to the public about a deadly product that will be in thousands of back yards this summer.
My niece and her best friend drowned last August in my niece’s swimming pool. These girls were 9 years old, and they both were decent swimmers. They drowned together in chest-deep water, with three adults within earshot, and with a teenaged friend only a few feet away.
How could this happen? They became trapped in the pool cover of their above-ground pool. To a child, the cover looks like a trampoline. When the girls jumped onto the cover, it collapsed and folded around their little bodies. The girls could not gain their footing, and hundreds of pounds of water pressure kept them tightly bound. They struggled helplessly and silently. When they were found 20 minutes later, a strong, adult man had difficulty pulling them out.
We don’t want any other family to suffer as ours has. Please tell parents to discard these covers. The risk is not worth the benefit. Let them pick leaves out of their pools, not off their children’s graves. – Aunt Laurie
Dear Aunt Laurie: Our hearts are breaking for you. By sharing your tragic story, you have undoubtedly saved a life today. Bless you for writing.
Dear Annie: My family has been invited to the Bat Mitzvah of the daughter of friends. The service is followed by a luncheon, and then dinner and dancing in the evening. We have never attended a Jewish ceremony and want to do the right thing.
Is a gift appropriate? If so, can we give money? When do you bring the gift? I have to RSVP fairly soon, so I look forward to your reply. – Santa Fe, N.M.
Dear Santa Fe: Yes, a gift is appropriate. It can be money, although any present is fine, especially one with religious significance. Do not bring the gift to the synagogue or temple. Bring it to the evening event, or better still, deliver it before or after the big day.
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