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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Miss Manners 8/10

By Judith Martin, Nicholas Ivor Martin and Jacobina Martin ANDREWS MCMEEL SYNDICATION

DEAR MISS MANNERS: My mother was emotionally, physically and mentally abusive. Plus, she knew about sexual abuse in the home as my siblings and I were growing up, and allowed it to continue.

She most probably suffered from borderline personality disorder and narcissistic personality disorder, although she consistently refused therapy. All of her children ran away from home at age 16, and most of us became quite successful.

I tried having some limited contact with her as an adult, but it was like beating my head against a wall. In my 40s, I “divorced” her, and didn’t see her again until she was in a casket.

All the remaining siblings attended the funeral. We sat front and center. As people unrelated to the family began to eulogize her profusely, my sister started giggling ever so slightly. As the eulogies became more absurd, we all started laughing out loud (including her brother, my uncle).

We were in tears, from laughter, by the end of the service, and it was the most cathartic feeling I’ve ever had.

Rude? Quite. Real? Very. Best way to send her to her grave? Absolutely.

Afterward, we popped champagne and rejoiced that we had survived her abuse, and that in spite of it, we had become kind, empathetic, educated and successful adults.

My advice to others in this situation would be: Go to your mother’s funeral, if you like – you may find peace because you outlived her and survived. But the other option is equally valid: Don’t go, if you like. No one will judge you, because the people who REALLY knew her also knew her true character.

GENTLE READER: It will no doubt be a comfort to you that it sounds like your mother would have approved of your behavior.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have a close friend who lives nearby, and over the past several years, she has asked me to water her 25+ house plants when she and her husband travel.

Initially, it was twice per week during a two-week trip, about once per year. This year, they went away for more than a month, and they are planning a longer trip next winter.

How can I gracefully decline this request next winter? Would it be presumptuous to suggest hiring a neighborhood teen? That is what I do when I travel.

GENTLE READER: Say that, unfortunately, you will not be available at that time, and would hate to have her return to dead plants.

As your friend will be away, it will not matter whether the reason you are unavailable is that you are going on vacation, or that you merely do not expect to feel like getting out of bed.

Miss Manners advises against suggesting a different solution, teenaged or not, as it might be viewed as assuming responsibility for solving the problem.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: How do I send a belated notice to friends and family of the death of my elderly parents more than a year later?

GENTLE READER: In a handwritten letter that includes an apology for the delay. The formality will help friends and family understand that the delay is related to your grief, not your forgetfulness.

Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website

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