My mother died the end of January after over a decade of dementia and living in a senior care facility.   She was one of the lucky persons with “happy dementia” and up until a week before her death she was still being cheerfully gregarious with total strangers even while waiting hours in the Emergency Room waiting area.   She was one of those “adorable” old ladies, who, if she had been online, would have charmed thousands with her viral videos.  Her death was peaceful and quick.   Just the way she wanted it to be.

After my father’s death in 2010, I knew I wanted a more subdued announcement of Mom’s death.  In the days after my dad’s death,  people offered condolences with reassuring pats on the arm or back, telling me they were sorry, etc.   I know they meant well but it began to feel like I was walking through a grief gauntlet where every touch or sympathetic look was enough to start the tears all over again.   So, we limited the information to family and close friends.  There was no mention on Facebook.

Even with that limited circle of people being aware, there were still people who responded to that information in ways I found discouraging and disappointing. On the good side, one close friend invited me to lunch and then let me talk about my mom uninterrupted.  Grieving people need to retell the story numerous times to begin to accept the reality.   Another good friend announced that she was bringing us dinner and even though I didn’t feel like I needed a meal, it turned out to be comforting.   She called later in the week to tell me she was in my area and asked if I wanted some company. I didn’t but I appreciate her soft kindness.

But two other friends were decidedly thoughtless in how they interacted with me.   Both of them, within minutes of me talking of my mom’s death, redirected the topic of conversation to a discussion of their mothers’ deaths, both of which occurred  during the summer of 2016. They were clearly still grieving their losses.  In the one case, the mother’s death had not been peaceful or without family contentions so I sat there listening to sad details of her death for a lengthy time.   In the second case, I had barely spoken three minutes about my own mother when the conversation shifted, not by my doing, to being about my friend’s mother’s death. Had I visited her grave yet?   No, I had not.   Would I like to, right now, and see the new marker?  I love my friend, recognized she needed this and I felt I had no real option to decline so we walked over to the cemetery and we spent the next 30 minutes wandering through graves.  All I could think of was how I was going to need to research and purchase a headstone soon.

Intellectually I understand that these women were probably trying to connect with me in a “I’m in the same boat as you” kind of way.   The difference is that they had 5 months to mourn and process their grief, I had only 5 days.   I felt like my grief had been hijacked because I ended up consoling people about their not-so-fresh grief while I was still dazed.  I found it wearying and discouraging.

I believe that when we experience these acts of thoughtlessness by others that there is a practical lesson to be learned, namely to know what not to do in future situations.   From an Ehell perspective, we should walk away from these experiences saying to ourselves,  “I hope and endeavor to never treat someone that way,”  while embracing the positive kindnesses as good examples to emulate.

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I’m a professional opera, concert and choral singer that was diagnosed with a brain tumour. The neurosurgeon’s (prof. Dr. Pierre Robe) advice was to do an awake craniotomy so that I could sing during the surgery (on June 13th 2014) in order to avoid deficits after the procedure. The music neuro team of the UMC in Utrecht was also involved in order to assist the surgery. There is no blood or exposed flesh in the video.

I sing two (first and last) couplets of Schubert’s lied “Gute Nacht”: the minor – major transition in order to see if I can still recognise the key change. All is fine until min. 2:40 when things start to get very interesting…

It’s been more than a year since and I’m doing fine, continuing my professional singing career.

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For today’ post I am going to respond uncharacteristically by breaking down the submitted story and replying to each paragraph individually…..

 

Hi, can I ask your and your readers’ advice?

You certainly may.

I’ve been divorced for 3 years. My ex and I were married for 30 years and were friends until just a few months ago when we had a falling out. Part of the falling out was I don’t like his new girlfriend, and neither does most of the family. She is cold and snobbish. They have been dating for about 6 months. Our daughter, Lucy, is very angry with me for “breaking up” the family just before Christmas and blames me for the divorce and a lot of other things. Other things she shouldn’t even know about that my ex told her and spun in ways to make me look bad and himself look like poor Mr. Nice Guy. I am completely avoiding him, since I would really like to rip his head off. Lucy is barely talking to me and has been really hateful.

It is unfortunate when children become the battleground upon which their adult parents fight.

Lucy is getting married in 4 months. She has decided to have a very small wedding with just parents, siblings, and grandparents — about 20 people. I want her to include aunts and uncles, as my SIL (ex’s sister), who I am very close to, is very disappointed. Lucy’s other aunt will be heartbroken to not be invited. This would be bring the count to around 30.

Lucy is going to invite the ex’s girlfriend. I don’t want her there, especially since the party is so small and immediate family only. I really don’t want her there since my SIL isn’t going to be invited.

The ex’s girlfriend being there and the bride’s aunt not being invited are two separate issues.   Be careful to not take up the offense of your sister-in-law at not being invited.   You are justifying rude behavior in retaliation for your sister-in-law not being invited.    If most of the family dislikes the ex’s girlfriend,  trust me, it will be more awkward for her than it is for you.   Imagine being in close quarters with a family that universally disdains you.   The best revenge, imo, is to play the part of the gracious mother of the bride and enjoy the family connections that are there.   If ex’s girlfriend is truly cold and snobbish,  you want to present a totally opposite image of civility, graciousness (defined as kindness to the undeserving) and pleasantness.

Here’s the kicker. My daughter is keeping her wedding tiny so she can use the money the parents are contributing for a house down payment. I had intended to contribute 5k, my ex 3k, which is what we contributed to another child’s wedding last year. Lucy’s wedding is going to cost less than $1k (previous child’s was over $10k).

I really only want to give $1k since she doesn’t have any interest in my wishes. I know this probably makes me sound small and selfish, but I am really hurt and angry about this. Part of me does want to get back at her for being so hateful lately. But mostly I can’t stand the idea of having to be polite to my ex, much less his GF, when people we love are excluded. How bad is it to gift different amounts to children when their expenses are so different? Or can I say to Lucy, if you want my money you have to expand the guest list?

While I appreciate the transparency of your motives, I would caution you to seriously consider the ramifications of what you are pondering doing.  You are considering using money to exert your preferences which will come across as manipulative and petty.   You will confirm to your daughter that you really are the evil creature her father has portrayed you to be and she is the latest “poor Nice Daughter”.  Why behave in ways that plays right into people’s poor perceptions of you?

As for being polite to your ex, you would do well to engage him in what I refer to as “business civility”.  A person can be formal, civil, even pleasant to business associates in order to get a job done but that doesn’t mean there is any depth of relationship beyond that.   Your job is to get your daughter married with as little drama as possible and that means you will greet the bride’s father with a polite “Good morning” and then interact with him throughout the day in a business-like manner which may include having to chat about very superficial topics and stand in proximity to him for photos.

It is certainly within your prerogative to decide the parameters of your monetary gift.   But be careful,  if you did not have these parameters in place with the other child’s wedding last year, you will come across as the evil mother who rewards one child and punishes the other.   There is the real possibility of creting divisiveness between your children.

What you can do is state that your offer for Lucy and the other child was to pay for a wedding, not a down payment for a house.   But if the money for the other child’s wedding was presented as a gift to do with as he/she pleases, I think you are stuck with the obligation to be consistent.

On Ehell there’s been the steady belief that he who would holds the purse string calls the shots.   But in your case, I would be very careful how you call those shots because this is a situation where it can backfire rather spectacularly with repercussions well into the future.

 

To add detail, the original plan for 20 was due to a very small location, but Lucy intended a big casual BBQ celebration a few months later. That plan has been dropped due to cost, and now it’s just a restaurant dinner following the ceremony for the 20 guests (location can accommodate 30, easily).

One last thing, if Lucy insists on ex’s GF attending, can I insist on a plus one, too? I’ll take my SIL as my guest.

Sure!  I wouldn’t “insist” but merely make the observation that since the father of the bride has the liberty to bring a “plus one”,  you would appreciate the same opportunity.

Thank you. 0131-17

You are welcome.

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My husband is a big guy. He’s 6’6. More than one stranger has asked him if he is a former NFL player. (He is not.)

My husband and I work for the same company, but in different departments. While I was at work (my husband had taken the day off, so he was not there), a man who we both know who does not work for the company but who we have contact with frequently (due to the nature of our jobs) said to me completely out of the blue, “What have you been feeding your husband? He’s eating good.” I just stared at him until he continued, “He needs to work out more.” I then gave him a tight smile and walked away, appalled.

I probably should have said something, like, “Actually, according to his doctor, his body fat percentage is a lot lower than what you would expect for a man of his size. And he works out at the gym 5-6 days a week, weightlifting for 1 hour to 1 1/2 hours on some days and doing cardio on the others. The guys at the gym are trying to get him to do the power lifting competition, as he can lift, shrug and bench press massive amounts of weight. He’s built like his grandfather who lived to be 89. So, please mind your own business. And please stop implying that I’m pumping him full of fatty foods like a farm animal.” I was so, so angry. Why on earth would you think it’s appropriate to tell someone that his/her spouse is fat and that s/he needs to work out more? 0206-17

There are times in life where the comments and opinions of people not worth living in your brain and heart should be ignored.   It’s like you know the truth and it’s a secret you gleefully keep from them because it really is none of their business to know anything at all.   There are times I chuckle to myself thinking,  “You keep right on believing that, Miss Rude Person.  I know better and the truth is so much more interesting.”

I did have a somewhat similar experience in the wellness center locker room last week.   A total stranger asked me as I was preparing to leave if what I was wearing was a mumu.  I answered that yes, it was but that native Hawaiians call it a “mu’umu’u”.   She promptly replied, “Well, if you did some hula you would lose that fat.”    I paused for a moment and replied, “Snowbird Bento was the first runner up in the 2001 Miss Aloha Hula competition (the “olympics” of hula) having lost the title by one point, she is a well respected kumu (teacher) hula and she was and is a quite large woman.  Much larger than me.”   Silence.

It was astonishing to me that a stranger felt compelled to comment about my need for a specific exercise after I had just spent over an hour exercising.   I wasn’t about to go into a litany of every exercise I do six days a week so that she could feel justified in being a nosey busybody.

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Phone Drinking Game

by admin on February 6, 2017

I’m a woman in my early twenties, and I was recently in a situation that I’d appreciate some insight on.

I have a fairly large group of friends whom I’ve known since high school. Some of us have now graduated from college, but we still get together on a regular basis. A few people in this group have a bit of an obsession with their phones, and always have for as long as I’ve known them. Whenever we’re together, they’re constantly texting, checking social media, or playing games. It’s annoying, but I usually just shrug it off and focus on the people who are willing to give me their full attention.

Recently, I was out to dinner with this group of friends. After we’d all sat down, one friend suggested that we play the “phone game.” I’d never heard of the phone game, so I asked what it was. She explained that everyone puts their phones in a stack in the middle of the table, and if anyone takes their phone out of the stack to check it at any point in the meal, that person has to pay for everyone else’s drinks.

I had mixed feelings about this. On one hand, I appreciated the fact that someone was making an effort to get everyone to pay attention to each other instead of their phones. But on the other hand, we’re all adults. Do we really need the incentive of a free drink before we’ll put away our phones at the dinner table?

Another issue is that my job requires me to have access to my phone as often as possible. I’m a substitute teacher, and I often get calls in the evening asking if I’m available to work the next morning. If I don’t take the call, I potentially miss out on a day of work—and I’m paid by the day. Because of this, I do keep my phone on me during things like this, but it’s always kept on vibrate in my purse or pocket, I never take it out unless it rings, and I try to answer it as discreetly as possible.

I ended up declining to participate in the “phone game,” but I kept my phone in my purse for the duration of the meal. I also had a glass of water with dinner, and if I’d ordered something fancy I would have paid for it myself. (For the record, several people at the table ordered rather pricey cocktails, because “they weren’t going to be paying for them anyway.”) This did not sit well with some of the other attendees, who seemed to believe that I was just trying to get out of potentially having to buy everyone drinks. What do you think? Should I have played along? 0131-17

No, you did fine.  Other people’s failure to restrain themselves from constantly checking their phones for texts and answering unnecessary phone calls does not constitute a reason why you must participate in  a drinking game.

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Communication Is Like A Tennis Game….

by admin on January 31, 2017

The story, “An ever expanding circle of uninvited guests”, reminded me of a recent scenario that came up for me.

I’m a college student and in December one of my classes had a party. At the end of the party one of the women in the class, “D’jane” put out an announcement. “I’ve talked privately to some of the girls I’ve gotten close to but I wanted to extend the invitation to the rest of the group as well.” The invite was to a women’s circle held on the full moon. Two friends and I were interested and requested information. Out of my friends only I was able to attend.  I showed up on time, and quickly realized this was a recurring event she held. The others showed up late.  In all there were ten of us including the host. All women were between 25 and 30, and I only recognized one from class.  I found it a very rewarding experience despite not really knowing anyone.  The women were great, all of different interesting backgrounds, and I felt very safe and happy with them and the conversation.  I was a bit surprised when the girl I recognized, “Eileen”, said to the host, “Next time let us bring snacks so we can help out”, as it implied we were invited again.  As well as two of the other women mentioned they would be holding an event similar to this.  At the end everyone stood and talked for a bit and after thanking the host for having me I told them that if any similar events were held to please keep me in mind. D’jane hemmed and hawed a bit and seemed to push me towards the door, but she did say she’d see if it happened in January. Well,  January came and no invite to either meetings. I saw Eileen at school and she looked like she was going to approach me but quickly hurried off.
Is it even worth it to contact her and ask if there was a meeting or contact D’jane and ask about a February one? Is that bad form? Is that the same as inviting ones self?  0130-17
Yes, it’s bad form to press for an invitation.  You did all that was appropriate to thank your hostess, express your appreciation for being invited, and hint that future invitations would be gratefully received and yet it appears D’jane doesn’t have a particular interest in extending any future invitations to you.   Communication is often like a tennis game where the “ball” is the dialog back and forth.  In other words, you served a nice “tennis ball” into her side of the court that she could have hit easily hit back to continue the conversational volley but instead she’s not returning it. Game ended.
My suggestion is that if you found that kind of event inspiring and pleasant, use it as a pattern for hosting your own event.

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The Ever Expanding Circle of Friendly Guests

January 25, 2017

I love to host parties and events and do so pretty frequently. We throw a variety of events – everything from huge blow out parties to bbq’s, brunches and game nights. I am part of a women’s gaming group that meets monthly. These women are sweet and funny and I enjoy their company. There are […]

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Moocher Mom Misunderstandings

January 19, 2017

This week’s theme of moocher week, and some of the comments, had me wanting to get opinions on a situation I was just in. I don’t honestly think I was a moocher, but maybe I was. Backstory. I am good friends with a lady I will call Sara. Sara and I have sons around the […]

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