Older sis­ter be­comes cold and dis­tant to re­peated calls

Lodi News-Sentinel - - LOCAL/NATION - AN­NIE LANE “Ask Me Any­thing: A Year of Ad­vice From Dear An­nie” is out now! An­nie Lane’s de­but book — fea­tur­ing fa­vorite col­umns on love, friend­ship, fam­ily and eti­quette — is avail­able as a paper­back and e-book. Visit http://www.cre­ator­spub­lish­ing.com for

Dear An­nie: I am writ­ing to ask your opin­ion about the change in my sis­ter’s be­hav­ior to­ward me. I have two sis­ters, and the one

I am speak­ing of is my elder sis­ter, “Ruth.”

Ruth has al­ways been en­vi­ous of my younger sis­ter and me and re­sented the close relationship I had with our father.

Un­til re­cently, Ruth would call me about once a week to say hello and check on me. I would call and say hello to her. She lives about 21⁄2 hours away from me. Her hus­band passed away sud­denly, and it was some time after that when I no­ticed a dif­fer­ence in the way she re­lates to me. Her calls have been less fre­quent. When I call her, she has very lit­tle to say and then says she has to go. I don’t be­lieve she has a health prob­lem. She is still work­ing. Her chil­dren live nearby.

On her birth­day, I sent a card and called her. She was po­lite but guarded in her con­ver­sa­tion.

She has never been a par­tic­u­larly happy per­son, but her be­hav­ior has changed dras­ti­cally.

When I called her be­fore Thanks­giv­ing, I com­mented that I had not heard from her since June, and she said she was stay­ing busy. I have thought and thought, but I can­not think of any­thing I could have done to of­fend her. Fam­ily has al­ways meant a great deal to me. What are your thoughts? — Puz­zled Sis­ter

Dear Puz­zled Sis­ter: Con­sider the pos­si­bil­ity that she’s act­ing dis­tant not just to­ward you but to­ward ev­ery­one. She may be suf­fer­ing from de­pres­sion trig­gered by her hus­band’s pass­ing — or at the very least be griev­ing deeply. Peo­ple can seem to be in per­fectly good health on the out­side but be hurt­ing badly on the in­side. You might try reaching out to her chil­dren — not speak­ing ill of their mother or caus­ing un­due con­cern but sim­ply ask­ing whether all is well with them and with her. Maybe your nieces and neph­ews have no­ticed the change in her be­hav­ior, too, and will be glad you asked.

Lastly, let go of the idea that Ruth has al­ways been en­vi­ous of you and your sis­ter. That kind of bag­gage is what piles up be­tween fam­ily mem­bers, prevent­ing real com­mu­ni­ca­tion.

Dear An­nie: In this coun­try, how many young peo­ple ever ask for ad­vice from older gen­er­a­tions on any­thing? Al­most none. We’ve been raised to as­sume that those born in the com­puter age know ev­ery­thing there is to know about ev­ery­thing. Not true.

The re­sult is that mil­lions of older folks feel in­vis­i­ble, iso­lated and de­pressed and that younger folks make some big mis­takes.

Turn to an older per­son in your fam­ily today — par­ent, grand­par­ent, aunt, un­cle — and sim­ply ask for the per­son’s in­put on some plan you are con­sid­er­ing. You don’t have to take the ad­vice; just ask.

The re­sult will be an elder who still feels re­spected and valu­able for hav­ing wis­dom. And this per­son may re­veal a story from his or her own past that (sur­prise, sur­prise) just might give you some fab­u­lously use­ful bits of guid­ance, some pearls of wis­dom. At the very least, fam­ily bonds will be strength­ened. — Sally

Dear Sally: I couldn’t agree more with ev­ery­thing you said. Ma­ture folks are an in­fin­itely greater source of wis­dom than any search en­gine.

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