John is miss­ing in fam­ily ac­tion

Cape Breton Post - - IN MEMORIAM/ADVICE/LIFESTYLES - Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar An­nie’s mail­box

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.

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