Reach out to sister to help repair rift

I am a recently divorced and remarried 46-year-old male. I was always very close to my sister, but these past few years, she only thinks of herself.

Dear Annie: I am a recently divorced and remarried 46-year-old male. I was always very close to my sister, but these past few years, she only thinks of herself.

My mother passed away a year ago, and my sister handled her memorial service. I was extremely grateful to her because I was a wreck. However, on a bulletin board outside of the chapel, my sister posted several photographs, including wedding pictures from my first marriage. I didn’t understand why — Mom wasn’t in any of these photographs. At the time, I was separated from my ex-wife and going through a divorce. My then-fiancee attended the service with me, and it was humiliating and hurtful.

A week later, I called my sister and explained how upsetting it was for us to see those photographs. My sister told me to “grow up.” After that phone conversation, I cut off all contact with her.

For some unknown reason, my sister doesn’t like my new wife. Did I handle it appropriately by cutting off all contact with her? — C.J.

Dear C.J.: We understand that you are angry with your sister, and we agree that those photographs had no place at the memorial service. Nonetheless, your decision to cut off all contact was extreme. Divorced couples often don’t realize that parents and siblings might also grieve the end of their relationship. Instead of repairing the problem, you burned the bridge.

If you want to reconnect with your sister, you will need to reach out to her gently. Don’t rehash the memorial service. Simply say that you miss her, that you feel hurt when she rejects your wife, and that you hope they will get along better someday.

Ask how to improve things. We hope she will be equally willing.

Dear Annie: My wife and I have the best neighbours anyone could ever have. They shovel snow off of my steps, clean off my car, bring up the morning paper and numerous other things.

We have given them gifts as a way to say “thank you,” but I’m afraid if we continue with that practice, they will feel obligated to keep doing things for us, and we certainly don’t intend that. Any suggestions? — Stumped

Dear Stumped: Your neighbors understand that the gifts are a way to thank them, and if they are encouraged to continue, so be it. They would probably keep doing these things regardless. We suggest you invite them for a casual meal — perhaps a backyard barbecue when the weather warms up. You also could offer to return the favour any time they travel or otherwise need assistance. And be sure to tell them in person that you think they are the best neighbours in the world. They will appreciate that.

Dear Annie: You printed several responses to the essay “Dead at Seven” about older drivers. I thought you and your readers might be interested to know that a study of senior drivers is being conducted in Canada.

It is the Canadian Driving Research Initiative for Vehicular Safety in the Elderly (CANDRIVE), dedicated to improving the safety of older drivers. Volunteers (which I am) are evaluated mentally and physically at least once a year.

One of the goals is to extend the length of time that older drivers can safely drive through retraining programs and customized or restricted licensing. CANDRIVE is also working to develop a screening tool to identify unsafe older drivers. Early identification will protect the public, as well as the rights of the majority of older drivers who are still capable.

As a final evaluation, I am being asked to drive to two of my regular sites. I will have cameras installed in my car and will be followed by another car that will observe my reactions. Those interested can check candrive.ca. — P.J., age 83, No Tickets, No Accidents (Knock Wood)

Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to anniesmailbox@comcast.net, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254.

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