By Annie Lane
Dear Annie: I am a widow. I have three adult children, two daughters and one son. I am fortunate that my son, “Ryan,” and one of my daughters, “Melissa,” both live in the same city as me. But I’m writing because I have an ongoing situation with Melissa.
I have severe arthritis, and while I am able to take care of myself, there are times when Ryan and Melissa could do errands that would be really helpful. Ryan is great with this, but Melissa, not so much.
For example, occasionally I have asked her to pick up some things at the grocery for me. (Grocery shopping is difficult with my arthritis because of the lifting involved.) Sometimes she reluctantly agrees; sometimes she makes up excuses as to why she can’t go. Even when she does go, she tends to only get half the items on the list.
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I have tried to figure out what is going on with her. I asked her had I done anything to offend her. She assured me I had not. I should tell you that Melissa is a strong-willed, rather stubborn person, and she is very opinionated. She is somewhat of a perfectionist, but this has paid off for her: She owns her own business and it has done well.
Today, she was going to be driving by my house, and I asked if she might be willing to stop at a fast-food restaurant to get me something for dinner. She said maybe but wouldn’t commit to doing it. Then, when she was headed past my house, she called to see what I wanted her to pick up. I thanked her and told her I had already eaten.
Neither Ryan nor my other daughter act like this. I talked to a few friends to get their opinion and they both suggested I not ask her to do anything for me. Her behavior is causing me to feel uncomfortable when she stops by. What do you suggest? — A Concerned Mother
Dear Concerned Mother: In “The 5 Love Languages,” writer Gary Chapman put forth the idea that there are five primary ways for expressing love, and that each of us tends to gravitate toward one of those five. They are: words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time and physical touch. It seems that you consider acts of service the primary way of conferring love. Your daughter may feel differently, and that’s not a personal rejection of you.
That’s not to say it’s OK for her to blow off your requests for needed help. And when you do really need something from her, you should be direct about how important it is.
Dear Annie: I was disgusted by the letter from “Sick,” who said that her brother-in-law loves to cough when he is ill, but also coughs into his hands and spreads germs, making no one want to be around him. I loved your suggestions about frequent hand washing and using sanitizer, but I have another idea: If you are going to be in his presence, then wear a medical mask. This will help protect you and also relay a very strong message to him that he is infectious. If he doesn’t like it and gets offended, that’s his problem. At least you’ll be safer. — Retired U.S. Navy Medic
Dear Navy Medic: I keep thinking back to the letter from “Sick,” as well; the pandemic has only underscored how atrocious is his behavior. Wearing a mask, even after coronavirus, is indeed a good idea.
“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 more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to email@example.com.
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