DEAR AMY: My mother left us a year ago and returned to our home country. She told us that she was going back (after 27 years) because she couldn’t afford living expenses here. She left my father, my brother, me and her grandchildren and went home.
After a month or so, we realized she had moved in with another man and was living “a new chapter in her life,” as she later put it.
She is trying to stay connected with my brother and me, but my brother refuses to speak to her, and I am finding it difficult, given the way she left and the impact it has had on us emotionally.
Part of me wants to stay in contact with her, even if only for my children, but I also feel an allegiance to my brother, as he is my only family here, other than my father (and my husband’s family, of course).
I know I should be mature about this by accepting the situation, but I am on two sides, torn between maintaining contact with my mother and having a relationship with my brother. -- Abandoned
DEAR ABANDONED: Your brother has the right to make his own choices regarding his relationship with your mother. That same right extends to you. You should do what you want in terms of connecting with her. You should accept his choice, and he yours. If he can’t handle your decision, then you should not discuss it with him.
DEAR AMY: One of my cousins is getting married and has decided to only invite select members of our family.
I have always considered our family close. We have all spent most holidays together for the last 20-plus years and often gather for family birthdays and important life events.
Our family is also small. The groom has two siblings and four cousins (including me and my brother) and has decided to leave my brother off the guest list. He is also leaving out a set of grandparents, a great-aunt and two uncles.
My parents and I (and those who have not been invited) are hurt by his exclusions. When we asked the reasoning for the exclusions, we were told that he and his fiancee have decided to only invite people who have played an “important role” in their life, and because it’s expensive, they don’t want to pay for people who aren’t important to them.
Because of the exclusions, my parents are choosing not to attend.
I am a big family person, and I am happy for my cousin and his upcoming marriage. I have always been one who wants to “keep the peace,” but I struggle with whether I should go to his wedding when I disagree with his decisions about the guest list. What should I do? -- Uncertain
DEAR UNCERTAIN: Weddings are planned by a couple to celebrate their future together, but they are also family events. When one family member is excluded for no logical reason (other than the lack of an “important role”), it puts every other immediate family member in a tough spot. If I were in your parents’ place, I would make the same choice they are making.
If you decide to go to this wedding, then you should do your best to be a good guest. I can’t make your choice for you, but perhaps the “important role” you will play in this couple’s life is through the tough lesson that one consequence of excluding your brother is that you will also stay home. Their standard of “only paying for people who are important to them” reveals something sad about their family values.
DEAR AMY: I have to respond to “Not Enough Time,” who was wondering if long-distance relationships work. My answer is definitely Yes!
Three weeks after our first date, my boyfriend moved 1,200 miles away for a new job. We dated long distance, flying back and forth once a month for a year and a half.
We have been married now for 21 years and have a wonderful son who just graduated from high school. -- No Longer Long Distance
DEAR NO LONGER: Sweet!