Ask Amy: What to do with deathbed confessions?

  • Article by: AMY DICKINSON
  • June 19, 2013 - 2:05 PM

Dear Amy: I live in a small community. Several years ago, a man told my father-in-law that he had been told by a woman who was dying that she was the birth mother of a man who lived in town until he passed away (quite young). He was adopted by a local family as a baby.

The man who told my father-in-law was now dying himself and felt he needed to tell someone. My father-in-law then, on his deathbed, told my husband the story.

My husband doesn’t know what to do with it.

We both know two women in town who would/could be the deceased man’s biological nieces, and they have his eyes!

It could be a true story. Is there any point in telling any of them about it? Or when you are 50, do you just let it go? I kind of think they would want to know, but I’m not sure.

Amy says: Thank you for writing what seems like a perfect parody letter. However, as a small-town native (Freeville, N.Y., pop. 522), I also know that this is how people actually do occasionally relate to one another (so to speak) in small places.

Your options are to sit on this information and then disclose it as part of a deathbed confession, or to repeat it, plainly and without dramatic effect, to the possible nieces as something that you heard but cannot confirm. Tell them that because the deathbed disclosure involved them, you thought they should know about it.

She’s other woman

Dear Amy: I just finished my second year of college. I met a really funny guy named “James” in one of my classes. We immediately hit it off, but I never pursued anything because I had a boyfriend. When he and I broke up, I gave James my number, and we started to text continuously. We flirted a lot and we shared personal things with each other.

A month later he got back together with his girlfriend of over three years. They have been together since, but we have still been in constant touch. Now in the summer, he has been texting me nonstop. I bring up his girlfriend a lot and say that it is not fair for him to tell me personal things about him and how he feels for his girlfriend.

Recently, he sent me a text message saying that he liked me and that I was beautiful, had a great personality, and there was just something about me. He said he couldn’t help himself.

I feel like he is emotionally cheating on his girlfriend, and I am somehow the other woman. I have started to like this boy and think he is perfect for me.

What should I do? Should I ask him to break up with his girlfriend and be with me? I am studying abroad in the fall, so should I stop talking to him and wait until I get back?

Amy says: You have all sorts of possible choices you can make, but what you shouldn’t do is tell this guy that he needs to be a better boyfriend to his girlfriend.

If he is with a long-term girlfriend, and texting and privately communicating with you continuously, then, yes, you are definitely participating in his emotional infidelity.

He is showing you through his actions exactly the kind of boyfriend he is, and if that’s what you want for yourself, then go for it.

Send questions via e-mail to Amy Dickinson at

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