DEAR MISS MANNERS: My grandmother is 98 and currently in the hospital. My mother has warned me that she may not bounce back from it this time. In the event that she does pass, my mom wants the family -- my sister, my dad and I -- to fly up for the funeral one weekend.
I hate flying. I HATE flying. When I expressed this to my mom, she told me I would “just have to get over it.” The funeral will be nine hours away by car, which I don’t mind driving on my own, and I’m sure I could fit it into my schedule.
I’m financially dependent on my mom until I graduate. She bought me my new used car, and everything I’ve ever needed. She is a great mom! But I’m conflicted. I truly don’t want to fly, but refusing to fly means starting a fight with my mom.
How do I express myself and hold my ground, while at the same time showing her that I respect her, love her and appreciate her? I know we should always listen to our mothers, but when am I old enough to adamantly disagree with her? Is it when I pay for my rent myself?
GENTLE READER: Family roles change over time, a fact often brought out when facing illness and death. The disagreement you are having follows a no-doubt familiar pattern: Your mother tells you to eat your vegetables and you do not want to.
The way not to be treated like a child is not to act -- or in this case, think -- like one. Your mother’s mother is dying and your mother needs your comfort and help. Assuming you are there in time to provide it, how you get there is your responsibility, as an adult -- not hers.
Ask your mother when she wants you to arrive; if she asks how you are going to get there, assure her that she does not need to worry about that. Miss Manners notes that this is both the best way to help your mother, and to establish that you are now the decision-maker on some things.