Dear Ann Cannon • I’m a little embarrassed to send you this question, but here goes. My son recently married a woman who doesn’t seem to like me. I get along beautifully with my other daughters-in-law, so I’m surprised (and, yes, hurt) by her reaction. I’m not used to this reaction from people, frankly. Any suggestions?
Dear Mother-in-Law • I’m sorry. It’s just no fun at all to feel the way you’re feeling right now. Still, I wouldn’t lead with the thought that your daughter-in-law doesn’t like you. Bear in mind that she may just be nervous, even a little jealous of the importance you occupy in her new husband’s life. Be kind, be good-natured, and be patient, while giving the new couple plenty of space. My guess is that she’ll warm up to you at some point, especially since you have a good track record in the daughter-in-law department. And even if she doesn’t, remind yourself that she obviously loves your son, which is the real point. Good luck!
Usually when people tell their stories, I don’t think it’s necessary for them to identify the race or religion of individuals involved. Like, does it really matter? But in the case of this letter from a reader, it does.
Dear Ann Cannon • This isn’t a question, but I just wanted to write to someone to express my heartfelt appreciation to an unknown guardian angel.
I was at Sam’s Club a few weeks ago, doing my big “once-a-month” shopping, you know, the glamorous stuff, like boxes of cat litter, water softener salt, toilet paper, paper towels. You get the idea. A flatbed full of boring, monstrous items, a necessary evil of everyday life. Just ahead of me, a young (I’d say mid-30s) Latino man was pushing along a flatbed himself, with many plastic jugs of milk and other food items, as he headed toward the exit. One of the milk jugs fell off the cart, broke open, and splattered everywhere. He took it to the service counter, leaving a trail of milk. He was embarrassed and apologetic.
I saw exactly one napkin on the small tables near the service counter and brought it to him, saying something like, "bad day, huh?" and went on ahead.
When I got outside the exit, he came up to me with a bouquet of flowers (that he’d obviously already purchased for a wife, girlfriend, mother, sister, whatever) gave them to me, and said, “Thank You.” I gave him a big hug and told him he’d made my day.
You'd think that would be the end of the story, but he was headed my way when he went to get in his truck. He saw me pushing the flatbed to my car and came running over to me to help. He finished pushing the cart to my car and loaded all the heavy items in the back. When I went to toss one of the cat litter boxes in the back, he said, in no uncertain terms, that he would do it. When he was finished, I gave him another hug and he turned and went on his way.
Here's the thing. All I did was give him one single napkin to help him clean off his hands and jeans. It didn't cost me a thing but a second of my time and a small recognition of his plight. In return, I got back kindness a hundred times over.
It makes me sick the way the tone of this country has turned to a mantra of hatred and cruelty, the way decent people are vilified for any inane reason.
I finally had to throw my beautiful flowers away yesterday after three weeks on the desk. Every time I looked at them, they made me happy and grateful for a special kindness offered by a stranger. It only took the smallest gesture of decency to end up with a memory I’ll have forever.