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Recent Letter to the ElderWisdomCircle™

FAMILY: Do I Have to Reconcile with Grandma?
Letter #: 400114
Category: Family

Original Letter

Hi, my name is Miranda and I'm really in need of a second opinion right now. So my grandmother is 73 and lives about 4-5 hours away in a small town where she takes care of my great grandmother, her mother. We exchange 'I love you's and 'I miss you's and I'm not in a position where I could tell her that I don't really feel that way anymore... I understand 'family is all you have in this world' and 'blood is thicker than water' but what happens when you don't feel that way?

My grandmother and I had a falling out which has been building for these past couple years. She's a nice woman but things she's said and opinions she's shared have had very negative impacts on my feelings and image of myself but because of how my family is structured I can't tell her lest I be putting myself at risk for further outlash and scorn.... Anyway, we had a 'bit' of a falling out and I we hadn't spoken in months, something I was relieved in because that meant I didn't have to risk slipping up and saying something she disagreed with and then have to scramble to hide my opinion.

But she called me this morning at like 6:30 asking to see me. I know it's immature but I was really hesitate and I asked to think about it when she started going on about 'Oh well you know I'm 73, in a year I might not be able to do these things.' And 'You don't need to do anything just come, it'll be just us and Nini!' (Nini is my great grandmother) I don't want to go. I don't. But I know how she'll react. She'll be crushed. I know how my mom will react. She'll be mad. So will my brother Cody, my aunts, and a few of my cousin's. They'll tell my dad who will lecture me about 'Thinking of your life choices because you won't have a second chance.'

Sorry, that got a bit long.... I just really need advice on whether I should just bite my tongue and deal or just swallow my fear and refuse.

Elder Response

You have a difficult decision to make, Miranda.  Since you do not mention what the issue you had with your Grandmother, it is a little harder to give you advice.  I am sure it was a serious one, or you would not be having the feelings you have. Obviously, she has hurt you, and I am sorry you have been put into this situation.

I think the first question you need to ask yourself is: "Can I forgive her for what happened?" The second: "How can I put this painful experience into the past and move forward?" These are important to answer, because you will have future incidents like this. Not necessarily with her, but with a friend, business associate, or another family member. Whether you go or not, it is important to ask those questions.

I do not want to anyway make you think I am defending your Grandmother, but merely want to know what goes on in the aged craniums of fellow "geezers".  She has known you your entire life. She has watched you progress, from a totally dependent infant to a young woman. She remembers with great fondness your progression; your first solid food, your first steps, your first words, and your hugs and kisses as a small child. She cherishes those memories; memories you do not even have. Over the years, she had a responsibility to teach you, guide you, and protect you. Those maternal instincts never really go away, and it can be difficult for a parent or grandparent to move from a dependence relationship to a relationship amongst equals.

I also suspect she regrets whatever happened, and wants your former relationship back. It is why she is asking you to come visit. Pride may prevent her from admitting she has hurt you. If that is the case, try and show the maturity to realize her ego is making her avoid the issue. That is why answering the second question I posed above is important.

If you feel you can move forward, and put the problem behind you, go. If you do not feel that way, do not go. If you are unsure, then consider drafting your brother or your mother to go with you as support. In the end, the most important thing is to make a decision. Then the anxiety you are feeling will dissipate.  If you opt not to go, you do need to tell her (and perhaps your family) why you made the decision. I would let everyone know I just need more time, and leave the door open for reconciliation.

Will you feel guilty if you never reconcile before she passes? Maybe, or maybe not. Just remember, you can pick your friends, but not your relatives. I hope I was of some help, Miranda. Good luck, and hope it all works for you.

Best Regards,

Grandpat


    

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