Dear Annie: My youngest sister, “Rebecca,” and I have not spoken in over 25 years. She was the golden child — never getting into trouble, always getting anything and everything she wanted. On the other hand, my elder sister and I were our parents’ worst nightmare. Fortunately, we were able to grow up before it was too late to repair our relationships with our parents.
Our problem with the younger sister is that as she got older, she completely abandoned our parents. When my mother finally had to be put in a nursing home because of advanced Alzheimer’s disease, Rebecca did nothing to help. I live 1,300 miles away, so it fell to my elder sister to deal with everything. My younger sister went to see my mother once in 10 years, even though she only lived 4 miles away. She never asked Dad to come over for dinner, Christmas or any holiday.
I have reached out over the years, especially because we are all getting up in age. I have given up completely, as has my elder sister.
— Over and Out
Dear Over: I’m so sorry for what you and your family went through with Alzheimer’s disease, and my condolences on the death of your father.
Everyone deals with grief and stress in different ways, and it sounds as if Rebecca resorts to avoidance. It’s not the healthiest coping mechanism by any means. But just because she wasn’t there doesn’t mean she wasn’t hurting.
You’re right that “sometimes, siblings or not, it is just best to let go.” But you can’t very well let go if you’re holding on to all that anger. Find it in your heart to accept your sister for the flawed person that she is, whether or not she ever reaches out again (and if she does, don’t shut her down).
Dear Annie: To “Tea Drinker,” who wanted to know why coffee refills are free but tea refills sometimes aren’t: You’ve been led astray somewhat. It’s in the bag. Coffee is relatively inexpensive to brew pot after pot. Tea you purchase by the box, and it’s filled with all these individual bags.
I have never worked anywhere where we charged for a second cup, but I do work in nicer restaurants, where the selection of teas is already on the table –and you can be certain that bags of desirable tea flavors are stuffed in some people’s purses when they leave. It’s a cost we’ve always just absorbed. But some places maybe can’t afford to basically be giving free tea bags away and serving the honey and lemon free. For what it’s worth, that is my experience over 40 years of restaurant work.