DEAR HARRIETTE: I'm a grandma who had a bilateral mastectomy five months ago. My daughter-in-law brought my two grandsons, ages 7 and 10, to visit me once as I recovered at home, but she has no time for me now.
They live about 45 minutes away and she does not work, but I am expected to go to their house after I make an appointment for a "playdate." She claims they are too busy. Yet she takes my grandsons to her folks' house several times a week. At a birthday party last night, which I attended, her father was making arrangements for frequent golf outings with my older grandson without difficulty.
I love my grandsons and would like there to be some parity in visitation. They were part of my motivation to survive. Now they are unavailable to me.
We have asked them to save the date for a cancer walk and other occasions to meet us, and have paid for the admissions. But I saw these dates were not even marked on my daughter-in-law's calendar, and they have not responded to my invitations.
This has caused me great grief. My son has not intervened. -- Lonely Grandma, Seattle
DEAR LONELY GRANDMA: I'm so sorry that your family does not understand how much you need them right now. I wonder if they are nervous about being around someone who is recovering. Sometimes being around "sick" people makes the "healthy" people uncomfortable. Of course, that doesn't make such behavior right.
If you used to regularly enjoy your grandchildren's company and that has changed dramatically, I think you need to point that out to your son. Let him know that you have noticed you don't get to see his children much at all. Point out the difference in visiting schedules, and plead with him to make time for you to see them. Let him know how important the boys were in your recovery.
If they never visited regularly, you need to recalibrate your expectations. Unfortunately, it is not unusual for the mother of a son to see his family less frequently than the mother of a daughter. Fair? No. But it's often true. If that's the case for you, take a deep breath and ask differently.
Also, go ahead and visit your son's family when you have the energy so that you can see your grandchildren. Make it work for you even if you don't think it's fair. Stay strong and healthy!
DEAR HARRIETTE: Regarding the guy in prison who just found God and asked you which books to read: This would have been a wonderful opportunity to encourage him to read his Bible, join a prison ministry or seek out more people who know the Lord. There are books out there by authors like Max Lucado that will help you understand the Lord. -- Blessings, Chicago
DEAR BLESSINGS: The Bible is a treasure trove of insight, knowledge and guidance on how to live an honorable life. It absolutely is perfect for this man to read as he explores his spirituality.