Dear Annie: A few years ago, my brother announced that he should have been born a female. He started counseling and three years ago legally changed his first name and began living as a woman. This devastated my parents and two of my siblings, and they have disowned him.
I have not seen my brother since then. Our youngest sibling, “Paul,” embraced the change and kept in touch with him. Paul is getting married soon and wants a family wedding, complete with his sister “Jane.” My parents are devastated all over again. They refuse to attend the wedding if Jane is there. Jane has no desire to be in the lives of our family at all, except for our youngest sibling.
Any suggestions on how to deal with this? — Feeling Overwhelmed in Smalltown, USA
Dear Overwhelmed: Paul gets to invite whomever he chooses, and your parents and siblings get to decide whether or not to attend. We hope everyone will show up, not only to be supportive of Paul on his big day, but also to reconnect, even from a distance, with Jane. It always makes us sad when relatives reject a child because of his or her sexual orientation. We urge you (and, hopefully, your parents and other siblings) to check out PFLAG (pflag.org) for information on transgendered individuals. Jane undoubtedly would be grateful for your support.
Dear Annie: My wife and I are both in our 80s, and we are physically slowing down. It has reached the point that we need some help cleaning our house. But the horror stories from our friends are all the same. While the cleaning effort is good and the workers are dependable, there is one caveat: Persons employed by many local advertised cleaning services are paid just above the minimum wage. This creates a real temptation to steal. Our friends report that after every cleaning, personal items are missing. When they changed services, the same thing happened.
If we have to put away all of our personal items that lay around the house, we may as well just clean it ourselves. How do we find someone we can trust? — Need Help in Jacksonville, Fla.
Dear Need Help: The best way to find good cleaning help is to ask for a referral from a friend, relative, neighbor or through your house of worship. If you live in an apartment or condo, ask the building manager or doorman whether there is a service that works in the building. We also suggest you find out whether the cleaning service company is insured and the employees bonded. There are no guarantees, unfortunately, but it’s a good place to start.
Dear Annie: This is for “Don’t Want To Be Old-Fashioned,” who asked about writing an RSVP for a mass-mailing event.
As a professional event planner, I am deeply appreciative when I receive an RSVP, whether it is an acceptance or regrets.
It helps me to prepare enough materials and create the appropriate atmosphere. Who wants to sit in a large room with several empty seats when a small room would have been nicer? And if someone writes a personal note saying they cannot attend due to major surgery, I can inform the event hosts so they can acknowledge it.
I do understand in the age of mass electronic communications that the response rate and understanding of RSVP has changed, but simple common courtesy should never be disregarded in professional or personal interactions.
I’d like to thank “Don’t Want To Be Old-Fashioned.”
I hope to see her at the next event I am planning. — Appreciative Event Planner in the Midwest
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