Dear Amy: “Bobbie,” an older neighbor of mine, wasn’t a good person. Over the years she has done harmful things to me from which she has benefited. Despite all of this, I had a good relationship with her.
Bobbie befriended “Ted”, a divorced senior, and used him for many things – from driving around, gardening, painting her house, and lending her a large sum of money to remodel her home.
She and Ted often took short vacations together. After returning from such a trip, she went to a shame behind his back, devastated him, and told me that she couldn’t stand him. Even so, she continued to travel with him.
After Bobbie had surgery, Ted came to her home every day to cook for her. I brought food for both of them and later found out that she had eaten everything herself.
Bobbie died about a year ago and Ted took it very hard. He told me that Bobbie was a wonderful person who never said a bad word about anyone. I was silent.
Many months have passed and Ted is still in mourning.
If Ted ever mentions how wonderful Bobbie was again, should I tactfully, without going into details, let him know that she wasn’t the wonderful person he thought she was? Would telling the truth ease his pain? Or would it depress him even more to destroy his idealized image of her?
Dear undecided: Informing “Ted” that he is a lousy judge of character won’t lessen his grief. Instead, this very nice man is going to go forward and feel bad, “Bobbie” and you.
What greater use does this serve?
You seem to have played far too much of a role in your late neighbor’s relationship with her friend. She is gone now and you can remember her in your own way, but you shouldn’t feel compelled to influence how others remember her.
Dear Amy: I need to know if I’m overreacting or if my daughter is putting her life at risk.
I am 68 years old and live in a “mother-in-law” studio on my daughter “Kathy’s” property.
I see her and my grandchildren every day and I love it!
During this pandemic, the children are home schooling. My daughter has been looking for new hobbies to keep and keep her occupied.
I recently learned that Kathy and all four of my grandchildren exchanged letters with people. This means that some random strangers have my grandchildren’s names and our physical address!
I asked Kathy what the hell she was doing and she said she communicated with these people and verified and verified their identities before exchanging addresses. She knows them on Facebook (I don’t do anything online).
She says a lot of people do, and that she and the children made some nice friends through this pen pal.
I am shocked that she would be so stupid! She has no idea who these people are!
You could show up at their house and kill them and kill or kidnap the kids!
My son-in-law is of no help; He told me it was a fun thing for her.
I ask you to tell them to stop!
– Scared grandma
Dear Grandma: I agree to be careful when it comes to starting any correspondence with a pen pal, especially with children involved.
Your daughter has been careful and has done her best to confirm the identity of the people her children correspond with. Both parents are involved and committed.
I do NOT share your hysteria about it. Pen pals have been around as long as people have been able to send and receive letters. Many wonderful lifelong friendships began with pen pal correspondence between strangers.
Yes, there is always a risk of sharing your identity and address with strangers, but individuals manage that risk every day in their online worlds.
It would be wise to develop a kind and non judgmental interest in it. That way, the kids would be inspired to share their correspondence with you so that you can make sure it doesn’t put them at risk.
Dear Amy: I get frustrated at times when you refer to things in your column that I have never heard of. Not everyone is as familiar as you are with popular TV shows, movies, or books.
Please make your answers available to everyone.
Dear Trouble: If you come across a reference you don’t know about, I hope you will look it up or ask someone to fill you in.
Contact Amy Dickinson by email at [email protected]