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Amy: Friend disregarded her health scare

  • Article by: AMY DICKINSON
  • November 23, 2012 - 1:19 PM

Dear Amy: My husband and I read your column aloud every morning, ponder what you might say and often reply exactly as you would.

Now we have a question for you. This involves someone I would have characterized as a close friend until this year. She relocated to another city many years ago. I've happily visited her and we've traveled together as well.

I had a serious health scare this summer and let her know of it when she wrote suggesting a possible visit with us. When she comes to town to care for her aging parents, she sometimes stays overnight at our house.

For five months she continued sending us proposed dates when she would be in the area, never including a word of response to any news from me concerning my health. Finally, I let her partner know my concern about her lack of response. Her partner had been very supportive about my surgeries.

My inquiry prompted the friend to send me a vague letter about how she had missed the news about me, can't go back or undo, but can only go forward. No word of caring about the health episode, yet providing the dates she'll next be here. My husband thinks she is lying. She has a history of not keeping up her end of things, yet never to this extreme.

I'm well now; the parade of sad, mad and ugh has passed. Do I reply or remain silent and let her figure out that I'm through with this friendship? I'd like to express a clear view, kindly, from the high road, even though she has not.

Amy says: You had to go and bring the golden rule into this. And so you can also use this rule to calculate your own best answer.

Treat your friend as you would like to be treated -- with honesty, compassion and understanding. Her lack of concern may seem strange, but I find it is surprisingly common. In my experience, people who respond well to a health crisis have a sort of perfect pitch for calamity. The rest of us freak out and run to our corners, and then try to cover up for our own inadequacy by acting vague and quickly trying to change the subject. This behavior is not right. It's not fair. But can you forgive her for this major failing?

You're through with the sad, mad and ugh part of your illness. You cannot use silence and inattention to convey your message (that's her trick). If you don't want this friendship to continue, you'll have to be honest with her about the reason.

No gift for hosts

Dear Amy: Last Saturday we invited some old friends to our home for dinner. We have known this couple for 35 years but have not seen them for a while. They were in town for a few days, so we invited them over.

I worked quite hard to prepare a lovely dinner and pride myself in my culinary skills. When they arrived, they came empty-handed. I initially did not give it a second thought, but later I wondered why they did not even bring a bottle of wine.

My husband and I were taught to always bring a small token of appreciation to our host. Have times changed? Should I adjust my thinking?

Amy says: It might help for you to remember why you hosted this dinner. Surely your motive was to extend your own hospitality and generosity. I know of no requirement to bring a gift to a meal. It is definitely a polite and gracious gesture, but it is not necessarily rude to come empty-handed.

Focus on the success of the meal and generosity of your own gesture, and cut your friends some slack.

Timeout, please

Dear Amy: A woman wrote you, irritated that her son's fiancée didn't jump up to help with the dishes at a family meal. In my family, this would have been thought very intrusive and rude. This young woman simply might have been raised differently. This mother should get to know her future daughter-in-law.

Amy says: I agree. Thank you.

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

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