DEAR ABBY: Seventeen years ago, when my sister "Elise" and I were 19 and 25, our mother kicked us both out. I have long since forgiven her, and I have a happy relationship with her. Elise, on the other hand, has never let it go. I don't understand why, because she's the older of us, and 25 was a normal age to leave the nest.
Elise refuses to see our mother unless someone drives out to pick her up, so every holiday and birthday my stepfather picks her up and drives her round trip. Even when my sister is there, she speaks to no one, not even me. Mom and I talk and beg her to join us, while Elise sits off to the side and refuses to join in. I have planned girls' trips for the three of us with the same result.
I long for a relationship with Elise, but not a one-sided one. I feel bad for Mom and for her, because I'm sure Elise is lonely. I feel like a horrible person when I say I have a sister but we are not close. Do you think there's any hope? -- MISSING NORMAL IN MICHIGAN
DEAR MISSING NORMAL: There may be a lot more wrong with your sister than a case of hard feelings. As you stated, seventeen years ago it was normal for 25-year-old women to leave their parents' home and live independently or with a contemporary. If, at age 41, Elise is as isolated and uncommunicative as you describe, she may need the help of a psychotherapist to get back on track. Of course, this would entail her admitting she has a problem and a desire to do something about it. Unless that happens, there's nothing you or your parents can do to "help" her.