Dear Amy: In the early ‘30s, my uncle attended college in North Carolina.
He met a girl and they fell in love. When he graduated, he moved back to his home state, and she stayed in North Carolina.
They exchanged letters through 1933 or so, but the long distance doomed the relationship. He apparently was devastated at the breakup and saved all of her letters.
My uncle died in1979 and I inherited all of his estate, including all of her letters (about 120), pictures, and other small items she had sent to him.
In trying to decide what to do with them, I found her family on the internet. She passed away in 2002 but has a large extended family.
I composed a respectful letter to her oldest son (who is in his late 70s), telling him what I have. I specifically apologized at the beginning of the letter if he thought this was an intrusion into their family’s life, but on the other hand many people these days do genealogy research, and would love to know all about their family’s history.
I have not sent the letter. My family is pretty split over this. Some say to just throw this stuff out, while others agree that I should contact the family. I don’t want to upset them over their grandmother’s love affair with someone they’ve likely never even heard of.
What do you think I should do? — Conflicted
Dear Conflicted: Do NOT throw out these letters and photos. Contact the woman’s son, accurately describe what you have, and offer to send the collection to him.
I detect an undercurrent of scandal or embarrassment over this collection. I fail to see why you are hesitating. Your uncle and his correspondent were young people who loved one another. Their tender story is beautiful, and universal.
As far as I can tell, there was no taboo to their love affair. These letters — and especially the photos — would most likely be treasures to her family members.
Dear Amy: Should I be concerned that my boyfriend’s (female) work friend, whom he would only see twice a year at conferences (and has recently gotten divorced), is driving four hours to visit our town? She says she wants us all to go to dinner.
Here is the problem: We live in a very small and unassuming place. No one ever just vacations here. It’s obvious to me that she’s coming to town just to see my boyfriend.
He is oblivious, and says I’m being jealous. He and I have a very solid relationship. Am I just being crazy? — Jealous?
Dear Jealous: Jealousy isn’t always a bad thing, but it is often flung in a partner’s direction like an accusation, instead of it being the reasonable and justified response to a specific situation.
You might as well cop to feeling this way: “Jealous? You bet I am, buster.” This doesn’t mean that he has done anything wrong (or that she has), but that he is a desirable guy, and she is a newly single woman taking a four-hour road trip just to say hi.
The real concern would be if she (or he) insisted on excluding you. Neither of them has.
Attend this dinner, behave like a sophisticated and confident person, laugh at all of their inside jokes, ask pointed questions about work and family, think of people you could fix her up with — and suss this out.
Your Spidey sense should tell you whether you’ve got a real problem, or whether this is perhaps a case of someone (her) exploring a new territory, only to find that there is a sturdy flag already planted there.
Dear Amy: I’m the child of an older dad — a man who people assumed was my grandfather.
I simply corrected people and let them be embarrassed all by themselves.
“K In Colorado” is an older dad who should be a lot more worried about keeping himself healthy, so he can be vibrant through all his son’s life than about a stranger’s assumptions.
Letting ignorant people bug him is not good for his health. — Summer
Dear Summer: Your dad raised a practical and resilient child. Good job, Dad!
I completely understand the frustration this dad must experience to frequently be mistaken for his adolescent son’s grandfather, but this assumption was a likely outcome when he chose to have his first child at the age of 57.
Good and happy parents embrace the joys of parenthood, while tolerating its many frustrations.