The problem: A month ago, I called my daughter and son to remind them of their dad’s yearly family picnic at a cousin’s home. I texted all my daughter’s kids, too. My husband has Alzheimer’s disease and didn’t remember where we were going. The day before the picnic, our son called and said he had football tickets, but might come by later. He didn’t. The morning of, my daughter called to say she’d had an “insane month” and couldn’t make it. The grandkids never responded. I’m still fretting about this. Should I e-mail everybody to tell them how disappointed I feel?
Low road: Better than that, tell them that just as everyone was sitting down to eat burgers, the dog dug up a bag of gold in the backyard and their generous cousin split it evenly among everyone present.
High road: You might have self-absorbed young adult children, but that’s not what I’m sensing. I’m sensing grieving kids here, who might not even know that’s what’s going on.
Gearing up for this annual picnic, which their father once hosted with vigor and enthusiasm, could feel incredibly sad for them. Better, and easier, to just issue a host of white lies, or find a conflict, than be reminded of just how much has been lost.
Yes, reach out to them, but do so with love and understanding, assuming the best. “We missed you at the picnic. I do realize how tough this is for everyone. But Dad is still in there and your presence is comforting to him and to me.”
Going forward, perhaps you ease the road for everyone by staying closer to home, with more familiarity and fewer distractions. Be patient with your family and be kind to yourself.
Send questions about life’s little quandaries to email@example.com. Read more of Gail’s “High Road” columns at startribune.com/highroad.