DEAR JEANNE & LEONARD: Our friend “Robin” has undergone a series of minor surgical procedures over the past three years, procedures to treat a condition that is serious but not life-threatening. Every time she goes in for one, my wife and I send her a “get well” gift, something that generally costs about $75. We’re wondering, though, whether at this point our friend should be asking us to stop giving her presents. I don’t want to seem petty, but to me, after the first two or three gifts — and we’ve given her six — a more considerate person would have said, “Thanks, but from now on, your good wishes are all I want.” For what it’s worth, recovering from the procedure takes about a day, during which time she’s at home, not lying in a hospital or anything.
— Robin’s Friends
DEAR FRIENDS: You may be petty, but you’re not wrong to think that Robin should have called a halt to the gift- giving once these minor procedures became a routine part of her life. She
should have. But she’s probably had other things on her mind — like her health. In any case, you don’t need her permission to skip the presents. And as long as you continue to express your concern and good wishes, your friend shouldn’t be troubled by the absence of a present. DEAR JEANNE &
LEONARD: My husband and I had a bitter divorce. Among other things, he was a substance abuser and a financial train wreck. Still, after the divorce and even after he died, I made sure our daughter, “Kelsey,” stayed in touch with his mother. To my surprise, when this woman died, my now-adult daughter received nothing. (So you know, each of my ex’s siblings inherited over $1 million from their mother.) I’m reconciled to the fact that Kelsey’s grandmother left nothing to her. But shouldn’t my ex’s siblings — my daughter’s aunts and uncles — have given her something? Kelsey is, after all, blood. Plus, they received a lot of money from their mother and are well aware of how little their brother ever did for Kelsey. Even his unpaid child support would have been greatly appreciated. — Kelly
DEAR KELLY: We understand why you’re disappointed, and we sympathize. But if there’s a villain here, it’s your former mother-in-law. Kelsey is her son’s daughter and was his responsibility. Assuming that she hadn’t already helped you and Kelsey financially, this wealthy woman might at least have acknowledged her son’s failures as a parent by leaving his daughter something. No doubt he’d been nothing but trouble for her, but that, after all, wasn’t Kelsey’s fault.
As for your ex-husband’s siblings: It would have been nice for them to have shared with your daughter. But it’s a stretch to say they should have made up for their mother’s failure to make up for their brother’s failings. We’re sorry for Kelsey that their hearts aren’t bigger, but we expect they took their cue from their mother. She left nothing to her granddaughter, and they’re treating that not as an oversight but a decision.