“reign in blood”

Since: May 09

Braidwood, IL

#1 Jun 9, 2014
DEAR AMY: My husband and I were the primary caregivers for my mother-in-law. His sister moved out of state and came for visits during the summer and the holidays, but would not help with the care of her mother.

We were the ones who fielded emergency calls and saw to her needs. I did the cleaning, laundry and grocery shopping. I would help her bathe. We also took care of our grandchild part time and helped my own mother.

After my mother-in-law passed away and it was time to empty her house, I told my husband there were a few kitchen items that I would like to have. I put four items I wanted onto the kitchen counter.

My sister-in-law showed up, took one look and said, "Those are mine," and took them!

I looked at my husband and he said, "Don't say anything." He doesn't like confrontation, and I am the type of person who would rather say something and clear the air.

Now he gets upset when I don't want to see, talk or have anything to do with his sister.

I told him that I feel that it was a slap in the face to me that she took these kitchen items I wanted and he stayed silent. I feel I am justified to feel this way, and my husband says to let it go. Am I wrong?-- Angry

DEAR ANGRY: You get to feel however you feel. However, at some point, you should work on resolving your feelings in order to move forward and not stay in this angry and bitter place.

You and your husband are both right. Given his nonconfrontational temperament, it was unrealistic for you to expect him to speak up during this stressful moment.

You say you are someone who likes to clear the air, and so it is your job -- not his -- to clear it. You should convey to your sister-in-law verbally or in writing, "I was very disappointed in your behavior after your mother's death. She meant a lot to me, and I was a devoted caregiver to her. I don't think it was too much to ask to take a few kitchen items as keepsakes. I'm upset at your choice to take these things."

After expressing yourself, you should do exactly as your husband suggests, regardless of her response. "Letting it go" is for your sake, not hers.

DEAR AMY: My mother-in-law gave me $75 to pay for my birthday dinner at a restaurant (she was not able to attend the small gathering).

I didn't thank her right away and was going to thank her the next time that I saw her. She called me and said she was upset that I didn't call her right away to thank her.

Is it proper for her to do that? Does she have the right to make people thank her? I think she is being controlling.

Maybe I was wrong in not calling her right away, but I think she is out of line. What do you think?-- Controlled

DEAR CONTROLLED: Your mother-in-law isn't forcing you to thank her. She is saying she was upset that you did not thank her. If stating your own feelings,("I'm upset ...") is controlling, then how is someone supposed to express herself?

You should "Golden Rule" this one. If you had made such a generous gesture to someone else, wouldn't you be disappointed if you hadn't been thanked?

It takes two minutes to pick up the phone to thank someone for her kindness.

In addition to being flat-out polite, you inspire more generosity and goodwill when you express your gratitude.

DEAR AMY: The letter from "Desperate" broke my heart. This person wanted advice on how to get a family member to "stop drinking himself to death."

Unfortunately, I know from personal experience what you said in your answer: No one can get someone else to stop drinking; you can only support their efforts to get clean.-- Been There

DEAR BEEN THERE: Al-anon helps to clarify this dynamic. And having this knowledge can help.

“Where is Tonka?”

Since: Feb 09

Neda, stay with me! Charlie

#2 Jun 9, 2014
1 The intern is right.

2 Right again, but I would add that your an ass, not only for not thanking her, but for having a hissy fit to boot.

3 Drinking is the easiest thing I do.
blunt advice

Wilmington, DE

#4 Jun 9, 2014
1. While your sis in law is a self centered wench, whining about a few pots and pans doesn't make you a whole lot better. A wise old or dying person knows to give things away to whom they want before they are gone.
2. Gifts should be acknowledged quickly whether by phone or written. Unless you were seeing her within next few days to wait till the next time you see her is tacky.
3. Yep it sucks to watch someone's liver rot them away.

Since: Dec 09

Smalltown, Colorado

#5 Jun 9, 2014
LW1 - Your SIL is a poor excuse for a human. You should go out and buy kitchen items as close to the ones she took as possible. If hubby complains, tell him to get over it.
LW2 - You are a little twit. BTW, don't expect another birthday present from you MIL. You blew it and were too stupid to even realize it.

“reign in blood”

Since: May 09

Chicago, IL

#6 Jun 9, 2014
1- let it go, it's a dam spatula

Toj

“Where is Everyone?”

Since: Jul 12

Location hidden

#7 Jun 9, 2014
L1: Never expect to be paid for your generosity. It ruins the generosity part. The SIL was wrong from coming in a swooping the items. The LW is wrong for taking it like a brat. She should have spoke up right there (kindly -- as in "I was hoping to have those items"). Since she did not, she needs to let it go and stop blaming your husband. He didn't sew your mouth shut.

L2: You should have called. Apologize, I hope you told her how wonderful it was and how grateful you were, then bring her a small token gift she would like to show her how much you appreciated her generosity. It might smooth things over.

L3: Yep.

Toj

“Where is Everyone?”

Since: Jul 12

Location hidden

#8 Jun 9, 2014
edogxxx wrote:
1- let it go, it's a dam spatula
Maybe. Or maybe the three things were a KitchenAid Mixer/Food Processor, a Vitamix blender and an expresso machine.

“reign in blood”

Since: May 09

Chicago, IL

#9 Jun 9, 2014
Toj wrote:
<quoted text>
Maybe. Or maybe the three things were a KitchenAid Mixer/Food Processor, a Vitamix blender and an expresso machine.
It was a spatula, a frying pan, and a dish towel
Kuuipo

Elizabethtown, KY

#10 Jun 9, 2014
LW1: You and your SIL are both wrong: Her for taking the items you had set aside and you for remaining angry and holding a grudge over a few kitchen items. Both you and your husband know how your SIL is. Your husband has made peace with her, but you refuse to. I suspect that your anger really stems from the fact that she did nothing to help care for her mother while she was alive. The kitchen items are just things. Ultimately, your husband is right. You need to let it go.

Toj

“Where is Everyone?”

Since: Jul 12

Location hidden

#11 Jun 9, 2014
edogxxx wrote:
<quoted text>
It was a spatula, a frying pan, and a dish towel
What kind of dish towel?:D

I'm sticking with the Kitchen Aid Mixer, though. Those suckers are $500.
blunt advice

Wilmington, DE

#12 Jun 9, 2014
edogxxx wrote:
<quoted text>
It was a spatula, a frying pan, and a dish towel
Gotta be one of those green non stick frying pans. They ain't cheap.
She should grab the meat cleaver and go after sis with it.
tiredofit

Los Angeles, CA

#13 Jun 9, 2014
She should have put the kitchen items in her car before the SIL showed up. I personally would be cool with the SIL. I agree with you Kuuipo but who needs to kiss azz to such a selfish twit.

“Where is Tonka?”

Since: Feb 09

Neda, stay with me! Charlie

#14 Jun 9, 2014
The really sucky part is, she never even uses them.

Since: Dec 07

DuPage County

#15 Jun 9, 2014
1. Last time I looked, you had no claim, not your mother, regardless of how many things you did for her. Blood is thicker than water.

2. You screwed the pooch. Face it, you procrastinated and it angered her.
Pippa

Hancock, NY

#16 Jun 9, 2014
1: Yes, Amy (or her intern) was right but I'd make one change to her advice. I know they say you should "let go" of something like this. Sure, I'd call the s-i-l and tell her as calmly as possible that I was upset that she had taken the kitchen items I had set aside for myself without her even asking. If the lw had set them aside, then they were not in their usual places. The s-i-l should have asked why that was the case before she took them. After telling her this, I'd probably wait for an apology from her before inviting her into my home again. I'd be civil to her when I saw her after that but I'd see no reason to have this woman in my life. Even a token apology would go a long way to appeasing me but absent such apology, I would likely see no reason to have her around by invitation. If hubby wants to invite her over, fine. But I'd go out shopping, to a restaurant on my own or a movie while she was there. Yes, I'm in a bad mood today and I'm not happy with people are oh so quick to behave as this lw's s-i-l did and then act as though they did nothing wrong.

2: You don't sound any better than the first lw's s-i-l. Just think of it this way. You are dealing with your m-i-l. You might get away with such poor behavior toward your own mom, but you need to treat your m-i-l better. It's a very quick way to alienate your husband or make life difficult for him by making her upset. But Amy is right. It takes a few minutes to phone your m-i-l and thank her. By rights you should also send her a written thank you note. Always be more formal with your m-i-l regarding such things. It will impress her even if she isn't so formal to you in return. She'll think you have nice manners. But truly, you should thank anyone who gives you a gift as soon as possible, not just your m-i-l. So now, go out and buy the prettiest thank you card you can find and send it to her. Write a nice personal note on it as well. It would be a very good idea to include your humble apology for being late thanking her for her generous gift. Make sure you buy her something she'll really like the next time you give her a gift. Make sure you remember her on all the tedious gift-giving occasions in the future. You have a lot to make up for.

“...,to wit”

Since: Jun 09

Location hidden

#17 Jun 9, 2014
1. You guys are joking but this caused a life long rift between my MIL and her only sibling when their mom died. It wasn't kitchen stuff, it was old children's books that the brother took when he and his wife cleaned grandmas house after she died and before MIL got there for the funeral. It was a sufficiently acrimonious relationship that when D and I got married and I happened to be in their home town on business, it caused a major uproar with my MIL when I paid a courtesy call.

It carries over the generations, too. MIL and FIL sold the house about a year and a half ago and my husband helped clean it up for sale. He brought stuff home which his sister, my SIL ,thought she was entitled to. It went far enough that husband recievd a letter from SIL's lawyer demanding return (?) of the items. The kicker is that the tings involved are things which we don't need, don't use, are at least 50 years out of date in style and function.

If there is a blood feud to be avoided, it needs to happen now and LW needs to compartmentalize her sense of entitlement to things because she was the caregiver and her SIL was not.

2. LW was rude. MIL was picky. Have fun at Christmas

Toj

“Where is Everyone?”

Since: Jul 12

Location hidden

#18 Jun 9, 2014
PEllen wrote:
1. You guys are joking but this caused a life long rift between my MIL and her only sibling when their mom died. It wasn't kitchen stuff, it was old children's books that the brother took when he and his wife cleaned grandmas house after she died and before MIL got there for the funeral. It was a sufficiently acrimonious relationship that when D and I got married and I happened to be in their home town on business, it caused a major uproar with my MIL when I paid a courtesy call.
It carries over the generations, too. MIL and FIL sold the house about a year and a half ago and my husband helped clean it up for sale. He brought stuff home which his sister, my SIL ,thought she was entitled to. It went far enough that husband recievd a letter from SIL's lawyer demanding return (?) of the items. The kicker is that the tings involved are things which we don't need, don't use, are at least 50 years out of date in style and function.
If there is a blood feud to be avoided, it needs to happen now and LW needs to compartmentalize her sense of entitlement to things because she was the caregiver and her SIL was not.
2. LW was rude. MIL was picky. Have fun at Christmas
Wow. Shame on your MIL and your SIL. The thing is, if it wasn't about those items it'd probably be something else. It was obviously not about the items but about entitlement and feelings of not getting their fare share.

That crap is learned from parents before that's for sure.
Pippa

Hancock, NY

#19 Jun 9, 2014
1: Ok, I'm feeling better now and not so angry at the world in general. ;-) I still think the s-i-l was out of line taking the items without even discussing it with her brother and the lw. The lw should have spoken up with something like, "Wait a minute. I put those things aside for us but perhaps we should discuss the distribution of the household items before any of us actually takes anything." I think that would have left things open for a discussion and a joint distribution with less acrimony. At this point, I have to assume that everything from the m-i-l's home has been removed and there's no way they can still have this particular discussion. I also suspect that if lw did call her s-i-l about the items, it will not necessarily improve the situation. The s-i-l might give the items back to the lw but the resentment would still be there and to it would be added the resentment the s-i-l would likely feel. So in the end, taking the high road and simply letting it go will likely be best for family harmony in the long run. Perhaps those items had some kind of sentimental value to the s-i-l. Perhaps she was the one who had given the items to the m-i-l. It seems to me that if she had, she would have "dibs" on them when her mom died.
blunt advice

Wilmington, DE

#20 Jun 10, 2014
My paternal grandmother died of cancer before I was born. Beforehand she had offered to give various things to my mom and my mom wouldn't take them in hopes she would survive. Sure enough when she passed her sisters and nieces went thru everything down to my grandmother's underwear. She knew what her family was capable of and was trying to give things to whom she wanted them to go. My mom is 80 now and gives me things so my brothers wife (quite selfcentered) doesn't get her hands on them or consider things garbage and throw them away. Lesson: take care of who gets what before it's too late.
Kuuipo

Elizabethtown, KY

#21 Jun 10, 2014
So many families have been torn apart over the issue of who got what when mom died. I don't have any siblings, but I like to think that if I did, I wouldn't quarrel with them over possessions.

To LW: You and your SIL are both being petty. You are family. The things don't matter. Try to get along.

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