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Absence from guest list hurts old friend of groom’s mother

DEAR ABBY: I have had a friend, “Kimberly,” for 52 years, ever since first grade. We went all through school together. Teachers described her as a “social butterfly.” My dad described her as a “phony.” She’s an extrovert with a nice personality and many friends. I am more of an introvert, but I do have a few good friends. We are both happily married with children and grandchildren.

I moved from our hometown 28 years ago, but we have stayed in contact. Kim will call me on my birthday, etc. We talk on the phone every few months and meet for lunch when I go back to visit. She refers to me as her “oldest and dearest friend.”

I invited Kim to all four of my children’s weddings. She didn’t attend, but sent gifts. (Kim has anxiety and doesn’t like to travel.) When her older son got married two years ago, I wasn’t invited, but I sent a generous gift. Now, her younger son is being married, and again, I’m not invited.

I’d like to share in Kim’s joy. There are people attending I’d like to see. I feel like a fool. Do you think my dad was right about Kim? Am I on her “C” list when I thought I was “A”-rated? I feel like a 12-year-old who was excluded from a slumber party. Should I tell her how hurt I am or continue the next 20 years in this “phony” relationship? — SUCKER-PUNCHED IN KANSAS

DEAR SUCKER-PUNCHED: Do NOT quietly nurture a grudge that may end your long friendship with Kim. Have a talk with your old friend about your feelings. Depending upon who has footed the bill for these shindigs, you may be blaming the wrong person.

Traditionally, the bride’s parents pay for their daughter’s wedding; more recently, the happy couples pay for it themselves. For financial reasons, they may have needed to curtail the guest list, which is why you weren’t invited. Also, the young couple may have preferred to include more of their own friends, which limited the number of invitations the groom’s parents could issue.

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DEAR ABBY: Thirty years ago, a friend of my husband’s roommate passed away of AIDS and was cremated. His family had ostracized him. I have no idea who they are or where they are. The roommate left and later died, also from AIDS. He left his friend’s ashes in his old room in my husband’s house in the San Francisco Bay area with instructions to scatter them in Hawaii.

The ashes have been sitting reverently in a cardboard box on a shelf in our several homes for all these 30 years. We are still together, but getting old. There is no paperwork of any kind. All we know about the deceased is his name and the fact that he was a friend.

Before I die, I would like to resolve this problem and arrange for the ashes to have a permanent resting place, preferably in Hawaii. I have a nephew who lives on the Big Island, where the scattering should take place. How should I proceed, in light of the no paperwork problem? — MIKE IN

CALIFORNIA

DEAR MIKE: I applaud your caring heart and your determination to carry out this man’s last wishes. I took your question to Joshua Slocum, executive director of the Funeral Consumers Alliance, and this is what he told me:

“There is no impediment to your taking the ashes and placing them where you wish since there are no relatives who have an interest in them. If you plan to carry them on an airplane, be sure to have them in a scannable container — nothing metal or such heavy earthenware that an X-ray scanner would be prevented from seeing inside. There is no requirement that you carry a death certificate, or any other certificate, with you. You do not need ‘papers’ to walk around with an urn or to travel with one.

“As far as scattering goes, people scatter ashes all the time. Cremated remains are sterile calcium and no threat at all to the environment. While public lands usually discourage, or prohibit by rule, scattering of ashes, it is common practice that cannot be stopped. Use discretion and care — there is no such thing as ‘ashes police.'”

DEAR ABBY: I am older and on a fixed income. At times I still date, and I’m not sure how to handle this. After one or two dinners out or glasses of wine, etc., I feel my dates are waiting for me to treat them, and I can’t afford it. I don’t know how to explain that I don’t have enough money to do that.

I’m a very giving person, and I would love to make them dinner if I knew them better. One time I brought someone a huge amount of beautiful organic vegetables, but that wasn’t enough. He was really upset I didn’t buy him wine on one of the dates. What to do? — REALLY WISH I COULD

DEAR REALLY WISH: The person who was really upset that you didn’t buy him wine on one of those dates should have been told that you are on a fixed income and it wasn’t within your budget. You should also have told him you were reciprocating within your ability. If he needed a drink that badly, he could have paid for his own. You’re lucky to be rid of him.

In the future, TELL the man you are seeing that after you know him better, you would love to treat him to some home-cooked meals, which might actually be nicer than what you can afford to buy him in a restaurant. He might appreciate both your candor and the food. If he doesn’t, I think you will be lucky to be rid of him, too.

P.S. Have you considered paying the tab for a casual breakfast, lunch or a coffee/pastry date instead of dinner?

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DEAR ABBY: Parents frequently write to you asking for advice about their children, seemingly asking permission to butt in where they should not.

When I was in my 20s, I dated a guy who had just returned from the Navy. I saw him — and others — while working and going to college. Sometimes I’d drive 40 miles to visit him and stay with my mother. At some point, he told me we wouldn’t be seeing each other anymore. He doesn’t remember the details of the conversation, and neither do I. I liked him very much and may have been in love.

I found out years later that my mother had called him to her house and told him to marry me or let me go. We were both young and not ready for marriage. I have no idea what possessed her to do that. Sometimes I wish I had talked with her about it, but it wouldn’t have changed anything.

He and I have visited a few times during the past few years. We both married wonderful people, had kids, and have had good lives. Yet there has always been the question: What if Mom had not interfered?

Abby, please advise parents to mind their own business, especially where adult children are involved. — FIFTY YEARS WONDERING

DEAR F.Y.W.: Whether that romance would have led to marriage had your mother stayed out of it, I can’t guess and neither can you. Fortunately, you and the young man went on to have happy lives and successful marriages.

Some mothers can’t resist the temptation to interfere in their adult children’s lives. Today, when it is constant, it’s called “helicopter parenting,” and the unfortunate result can be disabling rather than helping because it prevents children from resolving their own issues.

DEAR ABBY: My 30-plus-year-old brother struggles with substance abuse. It has been going on for years. After countless trips to rehab, inpatient, outpatient and all the step programs, he still uses. Periodically he’ll be sober for a short time, but it never lasts. For a long time, I have been torn between total disassociation or the sporadic run-in at family events.

Seven months ago, his baby boy was born with narcotics in his system. Birds of a feather flock together, I guess. Since then he hasn’t been invited to my home or any event I have hosted. My mother and the rest of my siblings still invite him into their homes and act as if his lifestyle choices are OK.

Am I supposed to boycott family functions (holiday gatherings, summer BBQs, birthday parties for my kids, nieces and nephews) because they all continue allowing him to attend? I honestly don’t know what is right here. Please help. — HAD ENOUGH IN NEW YORK

DEAR HAD ENOUGH: Your brother has an addiction he cannot seem to shake. It is a disease that, in spite of treatment, persists. If you prefer not to include him at events you host or invite him into your home, that is your right. But for you to forgo family events in an attempt to punish him is isolating only yourself, and I see nothing positive to be gained by it. Because your feelings about this situation are so strong, the ultimate decision is yours.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.