Dear Ellie: I feel like never seeing my siblings again. I emigrated to this country 15 years ago and was fortunate to get a first job, then progressed several years later to a better one.
I’m the youngest of three brothers and a sister still living in our home country. Things are different there — it’s harder to get ahead.
So, I travel back every two years for a couple of weeks, and bring the items they tell me they need most, which includes money. There’s a limit on how much I can bring but I’m also generous when with them, paying for meals out, etc.
My last visit was a sad time for all of us. Our long-widowed mother was in failing health and died while I was there. I paid for the funeral, the burial and her headstone.
That was nine months ago. I’ve since learned that my mother, having inherited through my late father’s will some gold jewellery, saved for years for any emergency need for funds. Recently, she gave all the items to my siblings, but none to me.
My oldest sister slipped up when she sent me photos of her now-adult children. I recognized the gold necklace she was wearing. Our father had shown us all the pieces he’d hidden over many years, in a secure place. “Just in case…” he’d say.
I have a wife and two daughters. Though I earn well, life here is also expensive. But I never forgot my siblings’ needs nor have regretted paying for them — until now.
How should I handle this?
Hurt and Angry
Everything you’ve written about yourself as a son and brother has revealed you as a good, caring man. I trust you’ve also been generous to your wife and daughters.
While they may’ve also enjoyed owning and wearing some of that same jewellery, it wasn’t needed in the way that your faraway family might have needed it to sell to in an emergency.
You have the right to ask your siblings when and why they learned that only you wouldn’t receive any of the precious items. However, a will is a legal document in this country, and likely in your home country too.
Your parents’ initial purpose for the jewellery was apparently to avoid economic disaster or political upheaval, and afford an escape route if ever needed.
Fortunately, you don’t have that same shadow over your head. Yes, your mother could have included you in her will. But I suspect she had great pride in believing you and your family didn’t need that help.
Dear Ellie: My husband died many years ago and I had very little contact with his family. I was left with small kids to raise on my own. His family never got to know our kids nor had any contact with them or me.
Now my former in-laws invited us to a wedding. I never remarried. Do I take my kids and go to the wedding with a proper gift and act like nothing happened? Or do I send them a gift and not attend. Please advise.
Not everyone will agree with my response but that’s not what matters.
This is an opportunity for your children to know more about their grandparents, their father’s background, and his extended family. You, then, can bring the most important gift of connection to your children.
As for also bringing a wedding gift, the answer is Yes, but it can be as modest or meaningful as you choose and can afford.
FEEDBACK regarding the woman, “Dog Mama,” who’s described by the letter-writer as “having no filter,” despite that the two women had only newly met at the dog park. She was also using colourful language even when talking about another person (Jan.5):
Reader – “I suggest that the letter-writer just be straight forward and honest with this woman about her unfiltered language.
“I previously worked in an environment where “shop talk” is the norm. One day while trying to “fit in” I used some “colourful language” that had offended one person. He informed me of his religious beliefs and background and that he found such language offensive.
“I thanked him, apologized, and made a specific point to monitor my language whenever this person was around.
“I then noticed that others were doing the same. But, no one ever thought less of this person.
Ellie’s tip of the day
This successful immigrant brings comfort and pride to immediate family, plus financial help to those back home.