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by Abigail Van Buren

Dad's Second Wife Is Left Out of Memorial to Idyllic Childhood

DEAR ABBY: My siblings and I, all born in the '50s in a small town, have fond memories of our childhood. After our mother died in 1989, our father married "Sylvia," a new arrival in town. They lived together in our childhood home until his death in 2016.

We "kids" wanted to honor our parents and our fond childhood memories. We endowed a plaque for the town park dedicated to their memory and noting they had raised a family in that community. Sylvia is now grievously offended and furious that she was not included.

Abby, Sylvia came on the scene long after we were raised and gone. She's not our parent and played no part in the memories we wanted to honor. Although Sylvia was a good wife to our dad, she did her best to erase all traces of our mother from Dad's memory and from his home. Were we wrong? She has rebuffed our attempts to explain our benign motivations. -- CONFUSED IN PENNSYLVANIA

DEAR CONFUSED: You weren't wrong, but it would have been better had you discussed your plans for the plaque with Sylvia before donating it. That way, you would have been able to explain to her the reason why she wouldn't be on it. She may still be grieving the loss of your father, so try to understand her feelings.

And by the way, it is not unusual -- or out of line -- for a second wife to make her husband's home "her own," so don't hold it against her.

Read more in: Family & Parenting | Death