Annie's Mailbox: How can I stay in my son’s life despite his icy wife?

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Dear Annie: Ever since my son met his wife 12 years ago, he has allowed her and her family to insult me.

For example, her family held a party for my grandson’s first birthday at their home and included the entire family, plus my ex-husband and his fifth wife. Because the fifth wife doesn’t like me, I wasn’t invited. They did, however, have a second, tiny party so I could bring my grandson a birthday present. My son went along with this insult.

They live 45 minutes away, and I am not permitted to stop by and visit. I must phone with a specific date and time, and my son will call back after he has checked to see whether it is OK with his wife. Every holiday is spent with her family. The grandkids have never been to my house on Christmas Day. They are with her parents and then at her aunt’s.

Two years ago, I had triple bypass surgery two days before Easter. My son and daughter-in-law stopped by the hospital to visit, and her parents called and said to hurry up because they were holding up Easter dinner. Unbelievable.

They have Caller ID, and my daughter-in-law never picks up when I phone. I do, however, get calls from them when they want money.

I recently posted a comment on Facebook that was directed at my son. Her aunt had the nerve to respond, so I wrote back that she should MYOB. Now my son says I am no longer allowed to see the grandchildren or come to their house. How do I deal with this?

— Devastated and Frustrated

Dear Devastated: We realize you don’t have a great relationship with your daughter-in-law, and although much of that may be her fault, you are not blameless. No one should drop in on the kids without calling first. Any comment posted on Facebook is fair game, and telling her aunt to MYOB was asking for trouble.

You can catch more flies with honey than vinegar, Mom. Stop antagonizing your daughter-in-law and looking for reasons to be angry. Instead, find something to like about this woman and focus on it. Apologize for upsetting her. Respect their privacy. Play nice even if it kills you. It’s the only route back into their lives.

Dear Annie: My father recently died of cancer. During the interment, my husband’s uncle coincidentally was visiting a grave at the same cemetery.

When he saw us, he walked over and interrupted my father’s service to argue with the funeral director. Why? Because my father was not from this state and “Uncle Buck” felt Dad was taking a space that should go to a resident.

As the funeral director was guiding my mother to my father’s gravesite, Buck stepped right between them. Afterward, he stood watching us, glaring and shaking his head. I am terribly hurt and angry with this man. Am I wrong?

— Still Grieving Daughter

Dear Still: Uncle Buck was amazingly insensitive and rude. Even if the cemetery has a provision to give preferential treatment to local residents, he should have had the decency to discuss it after the service.

The man is a clod and a boor and doesn’t deserve another thought. Our condolences.

Dear Annie: I read the letter from “At My Wits’ End,” whose daughter has bipolar disorder, but her husband “doesn’t believe it’s a true illness.” Please inform her that the National Alliance on Mental Illness offers family support groups, a free 12-week family-to-family education course and a free six-week NAMI basics course (the latter for parents and other caregivers of children living with a mental illness).

She and her husband could attend these programs, and if her husband cannot go, she should go anyway because the information and support are invaluable.

To find out whether these programs are offered in her area, she can check the Web site nami.org and click on “Support and Programs.”

— Guy Beales, President, NAMI North Central Massachusetts, Board of Directors, NAMI Massachusetts

Dear Guy Beales: We have recommended NAMI numerous times in the past. Thanks for reminding our readers of this wonderful organization.

Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to anniesmailbox@comcast.net, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 5777 W. Century Blvd., Ste. 700, Los Angeles, CA 90045.

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