Dear Amy: Recently, I went to join my two closest friends and their husbands at “Betsy’s” lake house. I arrived early. My friends had gone into town.
Betsy’s husband was sitting outside, and I walked down and said hello, but he didn’t acknowledge me. So I asked him, “Do you want to be alone? Should I come back later?” He said yes, and I left in tears and drove the two hours back home. He was so rude and unkind, and I felt so unwelcome.
I texted Betsy that I was heading home and told her what had occurred.
She said she dislikes the way he treats me, but didn’t want to end her marriage. They’ve been married for 10 years, and she and I have been friends for 20.
We have gone on family vacations and have had many holidays together. I consider her my family.
I have always excused his behavior as him being socially awkward. I’ve never reacted or taken it personally until now.
I’m at a loss. He texted a halfhearted apology days later, but I’m fairly certain it was under pressure from his wife.
Even if my friend was willing to have us in the same space again, I don’t know how I would not take his occasional rudeness and shortness with me personally. It IS personal.
I don’t want to lose Betsy, or to miss out on our family trips and holidays.
Dear Bereft: “Betsy” seems to believe that she needs to choose between you and her husband, and I assume you hope this is not the case, because adults should have the freedom to maintain whatever healthy friendships they possess without their partner’s participation. However, are you boxing her in?
I would urge you to consider and accept that the guy just doesn’t like you — and unless you can take responsibility for a specific incident or attitude that might have contributed to this dynamic ... so what? It’s on him. (If I refused to be in the company of people who don’t like me, I’d never leave the house.)
Leaving the scene in tears demonstrates a level of sensitivity toward this man’s behavior that he probably doesn’t deserve.
The ability to be in peaceful proximity to people who don’t like us is one mark of mature adulthood. It is something for you to work on.
Dear Amy: Having just laid to rest the last member of the generations before me, I am more aware than ever of my own mortality.
I currently have items in a memorabilia box that remind me of times in my youth. These things are all a part of who I became.
When I die, I don’t want my children going through my things and wondering why I kept pictures of (and love letters from) boyfriends from my teenage years.
Is it time to shred, pitch or burn them? Is there a right time or right way to say goodbye to memories from the past? They still make me smile, but I don’t want my children to deal with them when I’m gone.
I also have love letters that my father wrote to my mother during and after WWII. It makes me smile to see how much he loved her. I can’t bear to throw away those letters, but it doesn’t seem right to burden generation after generation with letters written by people they didn’t know or barely knew.
How do I keep the joy without leaving the clutter (or confusion) for my survivors?
Keep it or pitch it?
Dear Keep it: I have a diary written by an ancestor in 1790. “Started building my cabin today” is one of the entries.
My point is that some of these quotidian — or deeply personal — things can be fascinating artifacts later. Do not throw away the letters from your parents. Do not pitch anything that continues to make you happy. Unless there is an enormous amount of material, I vote for letting your children reap the pleasure of enjoying these glimpses into your young life once you are gone.
Dear Amy: “Bored with Michelle” wanted to adopt a new nickname to go along with her new life.
My family shortened my given name, and as an adult, I realized I didn’t like it. I started calling myself by the longer version of my name, and successfully switched. Now only my family calls me by my nickname.
Catherine, not Cat
Dear Catherine: My brother did this, and half of the family made the switch.