Re­turn in­her­ited love let­ters to sender

Baltimore Sun Sunday - - ENTERTAINM­ENT -

Dear Amy: In the early ’30s, my un­cle at­tended col­lege in North Carolina.

He met a girl, and they fell in love. When he grad­u­ated, he moved back to his home state, and she stayed in North Carolina.

They ex­changed let­ters through 1933 or so, but the long dis­tance doomed the re­la­tion­ship. He was dev­as­tated at the breakup and saved all of her let­ters.

My un­cle died in 1979, and I in­her­ited all of his es­tate, in­clud­ing all of her let­ters (about 120), pic­tures and other small items she had sent to him.

In try­ing to de­cide what to do, I found her fam­ily on the in­ter­net. She passed away in 2002, but she has a large ex­tended fam­ily.

I com­posed a re­spect­ful let­ter to her oldest son, telling him what I have. I specif­i­cally apol­o­gized at the be­gin­ning of the let­ter if he thought this was an in­tru­sion into their fam­ily’s life, but on the other hand, many peo­ple these days do ge­neal­ogy re­search and would love to know all about their fam­ily’s his­tory.

I have not sent the let­ter. My fam­ily is split over this. Some say to just throw this stuff out, while others agree that I should con­tact the fam­ily. I don’t want to up­set them over their grand­mother’s love af­fair with some­one they’ve likely never even heard of.

What do you think I should do?

Dear Con­flicted: Do

NOT throw out these let­ters and pho­tos. Con­tact the wo­man’s son, ac­cu­rately de­scribe what you have and of­fer to send the col­lec­tion to him.

I de­tect an un­der­cur­rent of scan­dal or em­bar­rass­ment over this col­lec­tion. I fail to see why you are hes­i­tat­ing. Your un­cle and his cor­re­spon­dent were young peo­ple who loved one an­other. Their ten­der story is beau­ti­ful, and univer­sal. As far as I can tell, there was no taboo to their love af­fair. These let­ters, and es­pe­cially the pho­tos, would most likely be trea­sures to her fam­ily.

Dear Amy: Should I be con­cerned that my boyfriend’s (fe­male) work friend, whom he would only see twice a year at con­fer­ences (and has re­cently got­ten di­vorced), is driv­ing four hours to visit our town? She says she wants us all to go to din­ner.

Here is the prob­lem: We live in a very small and unas­sum­ing place. No one ever just va­ca­tions here.

It’s ob­vi­ous to me that she’s com­ing to town just to see my boyfriend.

He is obliv­i­ous and says I’m be­ing jeal­ous. He and I have a very solid re­la­tion­ship. Am I just be­ing crazy?

Dear Jeal­ous: Jeal­ousy isn’t al­ways a bad thing, but it is of­ten flung in a part­ner’s di­rec­tion like an ac­cu­sa­tion, in­stead of it be­ing the rea­son­able and jus­ti­fied re­sponse to a spe­cific sit­u­a­tion.

You might as well cop to feel­ing this way: “Jeal­ous? You bet I am, buster.” This doesn’t mean that he has done any­thing wrong, but that he is a de­sir­able guy, and she is a newly sin­gle wo­man tak­ing a four-hour road trip just to say hi.

The real con­cern would be if she (or he) in­sisted on ex­clud­ing you. Nei­ther of them has.

At­tend this din­ner, be­have like a so­phis­ti­cated and con­fi­dent per­son, laugh at all of their in­side jokes, ask pointed ques­tions about work and fam­ily, think of peo­ple you could fix her up with — and suss this out.

Your Spidey sense should tell you whether you’ve got a real prob­lem, or whether this is a case of some­one (her) ex­plor­ing a new ter­ri­tory, only to find that there is a sturdy flag al­ready planted there.

Dear Amy: I’m the child of an older dad — a man who peo­ple as­sumed was my grand­fa­ther.

I sim­ply cor­rected peo­ple and let them be em­bar­rassed all by them­selves.

“K In Colorado” is an older dad who should be a lot more wor­ried about keep­ing him­self healthy, so he can be vi­brant through all his son’s life than about a stranger’s as­sump­tions.

Let­ting ig­no­rant peo­ple bug him is not good for his health.

Dear Sum­mer: Your dad raised a prac­ti­cal and re­silient child. Good job, Dad!

I com­pletely un­der­stand the frus­tra­tion this dad must ex­pe­ri­ence to fre­quently be mis­taken for his ado­les­cent son’s grand­fa­ther, but this as­sump­tion was a likely out­come when he chose to have his first child at the age of 57.

Good and happy par­ents em­brace the joys of par­ent­hood, while tol­er­at­ing its many frus­tra­tions.

Copy­right 2020 by Amy Dick­in­son

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