John is missing in family action
Dear Annie: My brother, “John,” one of nine siblings, has not spoken to our 83-year-old mother in more than 12 years. He lives less than five miles from her, drives past her house daily and never stops in. At first, he sent birthday and Christmas cards, but even that stopped. Mom continues to send cards and reach out, but receives no response.
Evidently, John is upset with Mom because she asked whether he would testify in court against his pedophile stepfather if it became necessary to do so. John and his three older siblings were victims, and Mom wanted to protect her youngest child (my stepbrother) so that he would not be left alone with his pedophile father. John was so upset by the request that he cut off contact.
As far as I'm concerned, John is dead. My children don't know him. His daughter has missed out on an entire family of cousins, aunts and uncles. But my mother would like to reconnect with him before she dies. I'd like to help her do this, but frankly, I'm very angry with him. I don't want John at Mom's funeral. How could he have the audacity to show up there when he doesn't have the decency to speak to her while she's alive? Should I hire someone to ask him to leave the funeral? — Angry Sis
Dear Sis: It's possible that the idea of testifying against his abuser was more traumatic for John than he could process. John might actually want to get back in touch, but doesn't know how and is afraid he would be roundly and repeatedly chastised. In order to reconcile, you may have to let the past go.
Is John in contact with any of his siblings, relatives or mutual friends? Would one of them be willing to act as a go-between? Could one of you speak to John's wife and ask what can be done?
As for the funeral, your anger is understandable, but be prepared for a ruckus if you try to keep John out. And the knowledge that you are punishing him this way will likely keep him from ever reconciling with his siblings. We trust you are not the only one making this decision. Please talk to your siblings about it, and also speak to your mother about her wishes.
Dear Annie: I'd like to recommend that your readers talk to their doctors about the shingles vaccine. Five years ago, I got a painful rash on the right side of my torso. I was diagnosed with shingles, given a prescription and began taking the medicine immediately. By the next evening, I was much more comfortable, and in a few days, the rash, itch and pain were mostly gone.
If you suspect a new rash might be shingles, please seek medical attention immediately. — Papillion, Neb.
Dear Papillion: Thanks for the warning. Shingles is a reactivated chickenpox virus. Anyone who has had chickenpox can get shingles and it is terribly painful. The lifetime risk is 50 percent. Shingles most commonly occurs in people over age 50 and those with immune system disorders.
The vaccine decreases ( but doesn't eliminate) the risk, and we hope our readers will check with their doctors about getting it and whether or not their insurance covers the cost.