Dear Annie: My dad passed away three years ago. He was one of my best friends, and we shared a love of classic automobiles.
The day Dad died, I chose to stay at work rather than go to the hospital. I run a business, and if I don't work, I don't get paid. That evening, when I tried to console my mother, she asked, "Where were you?" She refused to look at me, so I left.
To my mother and her side of the family, it seems I am always doing the wrong thing. It was Dad who encouraged me to go my own way. My sister and her husband took over the sale of my mother's house. I didn't ask for anything. However, I do know classic car restorers and offered to help with the sale of my father's cars when Mother said she wanted to get rid of them.
When I found a potential buyer for one last month, Mother informed me that she had given the car to my sister as a thank-you for all the work she and her husband had done for her during the sale of her home. Supposedly, they are "restoring" the car and plan to keep it in the family. No one bothered to tell me. I was angry and upset.
My friends all agree that my mother was wrong to give the car to my sister without telling me. I can no longer trust any of them, so either I let it go or cut ties. Who knows what else they've kept from me? If they truly cared about me, they would include me in family decisions. I was working on becoming closer to make up for our estrangement after Dad died, but now I feel betrayed. I am tired of paying for a debt I do not owe. - Missing Dad
Dear Missing: You seem to be in complete opposition to your family. They say "left," and you say "purple." Perception means a great deal. When you stayed at work instead of being at your father's side, your family interpreted that to mean you didn't care. When your mother then gave you the cold shoulder, you should have apologized instead of leaving. From her perspective, if you don't care, why should she give you the cars to restore? And you believe that because you and Dad shared a love of those cars, she should have given you a voice in the decision.
You aren't communicating in the same language, and your anger is clouding the issue. Before the estrangement becomes permanent, please see whether you can work on this. Ask Mom to go with you for counseling. We hope she will so you both can express yourselves with a mediator present to translate.
Editor's note: Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to: Annie's Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611.