Dear Carolyn • I love my mother-in-law dearly. She’s in her mid-90s and has congestive heart failure, is blind and has fallen and broken bones several times in recent years. She’s now on oxygen and gets sick way too often. She lives 1,200 miles from us and we haven’t seen her in two years. I really want to go visit, but my husband keeps saying he can’t get off work and the trip is too expensive. Well, he gets off work for four or five days to do other things with no problem, and we have plenty of air miles and money. He does phone Grandma every night, which is great, but that doesn’t take the place of an actual visit. I could go on my own, but Grandma might feel awful if her daughter-in-law comes to visit and son doesn’t bother. I can’t very well ask her: “Gee, Grandma, would you like to see me even if your son can’t/won’t come?”
To Visit or Not to Visit
Dear To Visit • Maybe you can’t ask that, but you can plan a trip and make it very clear to your husband that he’s welcome to come with you, and that you otherwise won’t cover for him when Grandma asks why he isn’t there. You can’t make him stop being willfully dense or negligent, but you can decline to allow his cowardice to govern you both; you have your own bond with her, after all. At least, I hope you can; you’re all running out of days to make this right.
Dear Carolyn • My ex-husband is divorcing his second wife and moving on to his new girlfriend. This year, our son graduates from high school and a graduation party will be held at my house. I planned to invite my son’s stepmom. However, my son has asked to only invite his father, as the divorce is pretty nasty. I plan to do what my son requests, as this is his graduation. She and my son keep in touch and she wants to be at the graduation. What should I do, not send an invitation or call her to discuss?
Dear Graduation • What happened to: (C) Tell your son he needs to talk to his stepmom about this? Or (D) Ask him to reconsider excluding the woman who gave him so much? He’s not 10, he’s an adult now.
Carolyn Hax’s column runs Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.