Ask Wendy

Jewish World Review Nov. 14, 2002/ 9 Kislev 5763


Does father know best?; excuses, excuses


By Wendy Belzberg

http://www.jewishworldreview.com | Q: My 68-year-old mother has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. My father, my two brothers and I are at odds over whether to tell her the diagnosis. She has been to see many doctors over the past few months but has not once asked about the test results or the medication she is taking. My father says that he knows her best, and that if she truly wanted to know, she would ask.

A: It sounds to me as if your mother has made her wishes known loud and clear. Your mother appears to have accepted her fate; it is you and your siblings who are having a hard time. Will informing her of her diagnosis change anything? Your father needs your emotional support, and your mother will soon need that and much more. Perhaps your wrangling over how and if to share the news is just a diversion from the difficult challenges that lie ahead. In that case, enjoy it while you can. Then marshal your collective strength for the next years, for your mother's sake.

Q: My husband and I are often invited to other people's homes for Sabbath meals. After reading a recent letter in your column about guests who don't reciprocate, I thought I could offer some insight. I like to spend Shabbat with my friends, but I don't enjoy cooking and I am too busy to do so anyway. Furthermore, just the thought of preparing a meal for a lot of people makes me break out in a cold sweat. I'd order takeout, but it's a lot of money and the food isn't as good as homemade.

A: The last time I heard so many competing justifications was when my friend ended a romantic relationship by explaining to her boyfriend - in the course of a single conversation - that she needed to take some time off, was seeing someone else, thought she may be gay and was engaged to her first boyfriend.

I'm not buying any of it. You should disclose upon your first lunch or dinner invitation that you have no intention of reciprocating. Your hosts can then rule out any paranoid thoughts they may have about why they were not invited in return, and decide whether to issue a second invitation. If anyone has the gall to question your bad manners, why not just say that the dog ate your cookbook and leave it at that?



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© 2002, Wendy Belzberg