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Ask Amy: Mother doesn’t want to walk daughter down the aisle

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Dear Amy: I am a 67-year-old woman. I have one sibling, my brother “Charles,” who is 60. We live very near each other in a rural area.

Over the years Charles has cut ties with nearly all family members, including his three children. Still, he maintained a cordial relationship with my daughter and me – and especially with my son. They were more like brothers than uncle and nephew.

A couple of years ago Charles became very critical of my daughter and became offended by any little comment she made, no matter how innocent.

Then he became that way toward me.

A few weeks ago he came to see me in a rage over some imaginary wrong he thought my son had done to him (my son lives in another state for work, but visits regularly).

Charles told me that he did not want my son around anymore and made horrible accusations against him.

I just listened and when he finally finished ranting, I tried to have a normal conversation with him.

When my son tried to talk to him the situation went from bad to worse, and now they are not speaking.

I have texted Charles a few times and sent him a card for his birthday but have gotten no response.

My brother remarried a few years ago. He has become more isolated since then.

I believe his actions, so out of character, are a combination of his wife’s influence and possibly some mental health issues.

I wrote him a note telling him that I love him and will always be here if he needs me or wants to reconnect, but got no response to that, either.

At this point I have decided to continue to send cards for special occasions, but to stop trying to reconcile and respect his choice to cut us out of his life.

Should I do more than that?

– I am a Sad Sister

Dear Sad Sister: Some estrangements get started because of a definite disagreement: Things get said, apologies are not offered – or accepted – and people retreat to their separate corners. (And, decades later, the next generation doesn’t know why they’ve never met their cousins.)

What you describe is a subset of the phenomenon of familial estrangement, which I’ll call: “I don’t know what I did to offend you.”

The “X” factor here is your brother’s wife. (Are you ever in touch with her?)

Your brother also might be suffering from a mental illness or cognitive decline.

Aside from sending weekly edible bouquets, I’m not sure what more you could do to try to win him back. Your response to him has been measured, loving and compassionate.

I think you should continue to lightly keep in touch with him. Don’t push him for an explanation, but because you live nearby you might send him an occasional text and photo reflecting something local: (“Did you and Wendy see that sunset last night? Amazing.”) Including his wife’s name in your queries might help.

Dear Amy: My fiancé and I are getting married this summer.

I’m from a very small family. I have one sister and very few cousins. Our dad died and we don’t have any male family members I feel close to.

I asked my mom to walk me down the aisle to give me away, but she doesn’t want to do this. Now I don’t know what to do. I don’t want to walk down the aisle alone.

Do you have any ideas?

– Sad Future Bride

Dear Bride: I wonder how you might feel about walking down the aisle hand-in-hand with your future husband.

I think the whole “giving the bride away” concept is antiquated – because you aren’t anyone’s property – but this is also a symbolic joining of two families, and having a family member walk you down the aisle would fulfill this symbolism.

If you and your fiancé don’t want to do this together, you could ask your sister to accompany you.

Dear Amy: Thank you for telling “Living a Lie” to come clean about his lack of military service.

My late husband worked at the National Archives in St. Louis for 15 years.

He told of many letters sent by folks trying to claim their late relative’s many medals.

Many times he had to report that there was no history of military service, or that their relative had totally fabricated or inflated their service.

Families were devastated.

– Marion

Dear Marion: “Living a Lie” reported that he wants to spare his son this experience.

(You can email Amy Dickinson at askamy@amydickinson.com or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)

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Amy Dickinson , 2024-05-21 10:30:35

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