Dear Carolyn: My grandma is dying – they found cancer too, too late. She went from being moderately healthy to having only a couple of months left.
I live 10 hours away by car. My sister lives six hours away by plane. Neither of us knows when to be there or how to know. My parents avoid sharing unpleasant news.
Do I go now while she is still doing pretty well? Later? Thanksgiving?
I am talking to her regularly and afraid I will make the wrong choice. – Grief and Anxiety
Carolyn Says: There is no too soon, there’s only too late.
Visit your grandma as soon as you can for as long as you can, and more than once if you can. I’m sorry.
Dear Carolyn: My boyfriend of two years asked me whether I wanted to go on a cruise with him. I said no, because I had other financial obligations. He said OK, he would go alone as a Christmas gift to himself!
Interesting. I have not said a thing. I paid fully for two vacations, one to Key West and the other to New York City. What does this say about our relationship?
This is the same man who tells me that we are a couple and we do nothing alone.
What are your thoughts? Is it finally time for me to say goodbye? – Rather Confused
Carolyn Says: Apparently, but not just because he’s cruising alone; many couples embrace occasional solo travel.
On its own, his “Christmas gift to himself” is more of a forehead-slapper than a deal-breaker, with an easily made counterpoint: “Ouch. I gladly paid for your Key West and New York trips. I’m really hurt.” Then he’d have a chance to say his piece, which would likely answer your is-it-finally-time question.
The reason you needn’t work that hard for your answer: This man “tells me that we are a couple and we do nothing alone”? Wow. You know the context, but without it, it sounds suspiciously like the last thing someone says to you before you break up with him or her. It’s a statement of ownership – of you – that foreshadows abuse.
Short of that, you still have a guy whose rules bend to his own advantage.
You don’t even need this many words to get your answer, though: When you put “finally” in the “Is it time to break up” question, that’s the only word you need.
Too much anger
Dear Carolyn: Is it normal, understandable, forgivable to have conflicting feelings toward your father and his (second, current) wife, when their relationship started while your father was still married to your mother? And your mother kind of fell apart after the separation to the point where she is no longer the same person? (She went from being young, hip, beautiful and socially active to depressed, obese, disabled and isolated.)
My dad has now been married to his current wife for 25 years.
And can they expect me to celebrate their anniversary, and when I don’t – by not signing an anniversary card – tell me I’m no longer welcome in their home if I don’t apologize? – S.
Carolyn Says: They “can” do what they want, even if it’s needlessly punitive. And while your conflicted feelings are understandable, I don’t see why you’d want to embrace so fully your family’s emotional signature, which apparently is to build your lives around every affront, be it trivial or life-altering.
Your mom did it with such gusto over your dad that she lost herself to it; your dad is doing it now over the anniversary card; and you’re into your second quarter-century of doing it over the bad (and unchangeable) timing of the second wife.
It is within your power to decide you’ve been angry long enough. I suggest you do just that.
Send email to Carolyn Hax at firstname.lastname@example.org.