Thoughtless Friend | Nursing Home | Name That Baby!


A Lost Coat and Thoughtless Friend

Dear Ask Micah,

My friend April borrowed an expensive coat from me to wear on a trip.  When she returned home, she told me that it was missing.  Supposedly she had it with her at an outdoor café and laid it over the back of the chair, and at some point during her time there it was stolen.  She said that she had only gotten up once and that must have been when they took it.  She seemed very apologetic over it but has never offered to replace it for me.  In the beginning I was going to let it slide because we have always been close friends, but more and more it’s bothering me.  April has a history of not returning things until you say something about them.  I had already figured when I loaned it to her I’d have to remind her to give me back the coat.  I’m wondering now if I should mention that she should replace the coat for me or give me the money for it.  I wonder how to say it too.  Last thing I want is a friendship straining scene, but she did borrow and lose my coat.  Saying I’m sorry over and over doesn’t bring it back.  The right thing to do would be replace it.

Kylie

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Dear Kylie,

You didn’t actually ask a question, so I don’t really know what you’re asking me.  So I’ll just spew out my opinion of the situation—which is what I assume you’re wanting.  I say leave it alone.  April is an inconsiderate person.  Obviously, other people’s property doesn’t mean that much to her if she has a history of borrowing and not returning.  And need I restate your statement that you KNEW this history when you loaned her this precious coat! In April’s mind, I think professing multiple apologies was all the contrition you’re going to get.  Yes, she should have said that she was sorry and that she would pay you for it, but she didn’t.  Is that worth throwing away a friendship you enjoy?

I assume you enjoy April.  Why else would you remain friends with someone you know to be disrespectful of others’ property?  Clearly she’s very nice, or a lot of fun, or something that keeps her in your life.  I wouldn’t throw that away for a coat.  Besides, what would you even charge her for it?  You say it’s expensive but how long have you had it?  What kind of wear did it have?  Was it brand new?  Do you have the receipt to show what you paid exactly?  How much depreciation would you take off for the time you’ve been using it?   Just let it go and remain friends.  Just never let April borrow anything ever again.

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Home is Where the Nursing Is

Micah,

I am the youngest of four siblings.  One of my brothers lives out of state, and my other brother and sister live here.  We had a great family growing up and wonderful parents.  We lost Daddy a few years back, and now Momma is unable to take care of herself.  This is where our happy family is beginning to fracture.  My sister wants to put our Momma in a nursing home.  We have always said we’d never do that.  There are too many of us kids to have to do that.  I believe we should take her in and care for her ourselves as long as we can.  She’s years away from being so ill that we can’t take care of her and who knows if she would even live that long. She could die in a few years and would have had her golden years spent in a happy home with her children.

The problem is that I am unable to take her in until my daughter goes off to college in two years.  In the meantime, I think that my sister should take Momma in.  My out-of-state brother is not an option because we’d not be around to visit or help.  My local brother and his wife already have her mother living with them, so they can’t help.  That leaves my sister who refuses to take Momma in.  She’s spearheading the nursing home idea and refuses to consider letting Momma live with her.  I have promised her it’ll just be two years, but she still won’t do it.  I don’t understand either.  Her kids are grown and out of the house.  It’s just her and her husband and they have the room.  Momma would also be good company for them.  She’s not out of her mind, just in poor health and can’t live alone anymore.  Can you help me by explaining in a way that I can show my sister that my idea is much kinder and more loving than hers?  Our mother devoted her life to us and now she needs us and I don’t think turning her out is the right thing to do.

K

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Dear K,

I agree with you in that I would much rather take an elderly parent into my own home rather than placing them in a nursing home if that was a possible option.  However, that doesn’t sound like a possible option for you right now until your daughter leaves.  And let me repeat, that is something I personally might do, and something you might do, but it might not be a possible option or even a desirable one for others.

As for your sister, you can’t dictate to her what she should do.  For whatever reason, taking your mother into her home is not a possible option for her.  Maybe her husband isn’t comfortable with the idea and she can’t really tell you that.  Going against him and bringing Momma home anyway could ruin their marriage.

Maybe their marriage is on secretly shaky ground as it is and that’s why she can’t commit to taking in your mother. Maybe they have the most rock solid marriage in town but only have that because they have the time and the privacy to devote to one another. Maybe your sister is too ill herself to take on the responsibility of an elderly parent.  She could have some private issue happening that you aren’t aware of.

Or maybe she is afraid that she won’t be able to provide the kind of round-the-clock care that your mother might need and she’d feel way more secure leaving that responsibility to professional people she can pay, trust, and complain to if she feels something is lacking.  At her own house it’s all just on her.

Or maybe, though she loves her mother, she just doesn’t want to have a sick elderly woman living in her house.  Eventually that could cause friends to stop visiting, children to curtail visits, and grandchildren could stop spending the night with Grandma and Grandpa because it’s not fun anymore since Great Grandma came.  Your sister and her husband would have to virtually end their social lives or have to pay sitters if they want to go out alone.  It becomes complicated.  It is really asking a lot.

I realize that you plan to give of yourself in the same way in two years, but in two years your mother may be settled and not want to move.  It could be that she will be too mentally or physically fragile by then to undergo the stress of getting used to yet another new home.  Once your mother moves in with your sister, I doubt very much that she will ever leave unless it’s to a nursing home.   So hopefully you see now that you are really asking your sister and her husband to place their lives on hold for an indeterminate amount of time.  Granted, they would make wonderful memories they could always cherish of these last years with your mother, but they would also be giving up an uncertain amount of time in their own lives to devote to one person.

I think it’s very easy for you and your brothers to stand in judgment of your sister and assume she’s just selfish, so I caution you to really truly think about what you’ve asked her to do.  It’s easy to get caught in the mindset of “Well, Momma raised all of us and devoted her life to us so why can’t we do that in return when she needs us?”  That sounds like a true statement.  Who could argue with that?

I can.  Because it’s one of those neat little statements tied up in a bow that looks correct but really isn’t at all.  Your mother chose (presumably) to be a mother to her children.  With that choice came the years of taking care of them.  Your sister was not created so that she could be the safety net to catch your mother one day.  None of you were.  Moreover, your mother had children when she was young and had the energy to care for them.  You are asking your sister to take on a parenting role in her middle-aged years when she has just finished being “Mom” and is ready to enjoy the time of freedom and leisure.  Time when she can enjoy friends without having to interrupt everything to tend to the kids, and if she gets the temporary urge to parent again she can go pick up the grandchildren for the weekend.

You’re asking her to sacrifice all of that–to give all of her time, energy,  money, and freedom away so that you can sleep better after you go visit Mom once a week.  Listen to me, there is nothing wrong with your hoping a family member will take your mother in–and people who do that are the most generous and loving people in this world–but there is also nothing wrong with a person saying “I don’t want to take that on.”  It doesn’t make them horrible people.  It just means that they would like to have the same equality and freedom as the rest of the family.  They want the opportunity to visit and care for their loved one whenever they want but at a facility where they know the immediate constant care is already handled.  I don’t think that makes her selfish or uncaring.  So if your sister is saying no, let it go or move your mother into your room and you sleep on the couch till your daughter moves out.

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Let’s Play Name That Baby!

Dear Micah,

Help us with your opinion of baby names choices:

Boys:  Zac, Liam, John, Geoffrey, Rowan, Kallen

Girls: Emily, Jessica, Madeline, Kaitlyn, Elizabeth

Mom to Be

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Dear Mom,

Unless your son is going to be an underbutler at Downton Abbey when he grows up, let’s drop Geoffrey.  Rowan is nice for an odd name.  I like odd names if there is a reason behind them.  Kallen is stupid.  That’s not even a word.  I think we can finally stop just creating names from thin air and placing a “K” on them for kitsch.  I like Zac and Liam the best, although Liam is the new John, so maybe pick John because it might seem quirky in 20 years when every other guy around is named Liam, Kallen, Braden, Mayden, Raden, and Bodie. As for girls, all the girl names are so tame.  Madeline is the most exotic and in today’s naming game, it’s really not all that exotic anymore.  I like it a lot though.  Any of those are good names, just please no more Kaitlyns.  I know about six Kaitlyns.  They’re lovely people but let’s retire that name.  Whether it’s a “C” or a “K”, no more Caitlyns!

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