Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Dear John (5-1-13)

Hard Core Advice From
Hard Core's Hardest Core... John Leslie

Dear John,
     Recently, I invited my best friend (I'll call him Barry, since that's his name) and his family of four to join my family at a popular out-of-state theme park, whose name rhymes with Bisneyland. Our children are similar ages, and we have always gotten along well, even though we live in different states.
     My wife and I are members of a vacation program and offered to use our hotel points to save Barry a great deal of money. We didn't expect anything in return, but we had discussed how much fun we'd have together.
     This didn't happen. Barry and his family ignored us, made no effort to interact with my wife or children, and had other friends and family join them at the resort and in our shared rooms. They frequently went their own way in the theme park, hogged all the Bisneyland characters, and were distant during the rare times we were together. The final insult occurred on the last day, when they simply left the resort without saying goodbye or even thanking us for the stay.
     Clearly, Barry took advantage of our kindness and generosity, and interactions since indicate that they don't think they did anything wrong, and can't wait for us to pay for their next vacation.
     Are we wrong to have expected them to spend time with us? Barry and I have a long history together, and I want to preserve the friendship. I prefer to drop the issue, while my wife wants nothing to do with them ever again.
     Is there a tactful way to address this and salvage the friendship.

Dear Torn,
If there is, I don't know what it is.
Dear John,
     I've always had a problem with my mother and sister. When I was a child, I often stayed with my grandfather. I loved this man fiercely. He died recently, and the last ten years of his life were terrible. My mother and aunts rescinded his DNR and disregarded his wishes about life support, forcing him to remain in a partly vegetative state for years.
     My sister (let's call her Amy, since that's her name) inserted herself into this drama at every opportunity. She had to be removed from his bedside when she became hysterical and lashed out at the nurses. Amy submitted the death notice to the local paper without checking with anyone. She left out many family members, who are furious and are taking it out on me. My aunt (the executor of the will) has made it clear that I won't get the small tokens my grandfather left me unless I pick a side.
     I doubt Amy's grief is genuine. When I moved away, my aunts paid her to stay with Grandpa, and she told me she was only doing it for the money. My mother and aunts won't set the date for a memorial because they're all so busy trying to hurt each other. Every family function becomes a three-ring circus.
     How can I grieve for a grandparent who meant the world to me when I'm busy refereeing?

Dear Brokenhearted,
Let me think about it for a moment. Nope, I got nothing.
Dear John,
     My father, my brother, and I all served during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Only my father and I deployed to combat areas.
     Dad retired five years ago, and is showing drastic symptoms of PTSD. He is stockpiling food and medical supplies and keeps trying to get my wife and I to "prepare" for when "it all hits the fan." He spends hours a day obsessively watching the news and getting angry at the television.
     Our children used to spend unsupervised time with my parents, but that stopped when I found a loaded handgun in his bathroom cabinet.
     My mother has broached the topic of therapy, and I've offered to go with him, as I've been wrestling with some mild PTSD issues myself, but my brothers intercede every time, and say Dad's fine, and it's no big deal. Ultimately, they've convinced him not to go.
     I believe this is dangerous, but I've been unable to find any home counseling services, and even our pastor says this is out of his realm of expertise.
     What other options are out there?

Dear Concerned,
I don't know, and thank you for your service.

Confidential to Desperate:
Sorry, but I can't help you.

American Chimpanzee

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