Amy: All hung up on weekly phone chats

Dear Amy: My mother and I agreed on a day and time to chat each week. I work during the week, and mom has been retired for many years and is living alone.

Unfortunately, mom answers her phone maybe 30 percent of the time when I call. Later, mom will leave a message, such as “I miss you and am looking forward to your call later.” She sounds genuinely hurt and concerned to have missed my call. I worry about her because I live many miles away with my husband and son.

What I find most upsetting, however, are her reasons for not answering, such as: “There was a worker at my home, and you know you can’t reschedule that” or “I needed to trim my roses.”

Our 30- to 45-minute conversations (when they do occur) are valuable, but I’m refusing to call her back until the next week. I feel guilty, but I wonder if I’ll miss Mom when she is gone. I’ve always enjoyed the fantasy that my mother loves me more than her actions prove.

Amy says: Perhaps she isn’t hearing the ringer every time it rings. She might also be having some memory or other cognitive issue that interferes with her ability to attend to this scheduled call.

Also, and just as likely, maybe your mother doesn’t really have much to talk to you about. Or she has something fairly monumental to tell you but is avoiding it.

This is annoying, for sure, and you should ask her if another time would be better than the time you agreed on. You should also stop taking this as an indictment of your relationship. You have placed such a high value on this weekly call that it creates a pressurized situation for both of you.

I hope you will visit with your mother in person soon. Spending time together could revive your relationship — and you could explore other technology that might assist your communications.

Missing a friend

Dear Amy: I have had a girlfriend I’ve known for 34 years. I’ve been sober since 1996. My friend continues to consume alcohol on a daily basis. We had a falling-out two years ago when I wrote her a letter, asking her not to call me while drunk and explaining to her how I felt. I haven’t heard from her since. If I had known we would never speak again, I would not have done this. I’m having a hard time understanding how she could just throw 33 years of friendship out the window.

Amy says: If your friend is drinking, the answer is simple: Her alcoholism is running the show. If you attend 12-step meetings, this would be something to seek support for among fellow recovering alcoholics. Your biggest job now is to attend to your own grief over what is a significant loss for you.

Send questions via e-mail to Amy Dickinson at askamy@tribune.com.

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