Dear Amy: I recently got a Facebook message from a man, “Thomas,” who said he thought he might be my brother, and we did a DNA test that proved he is.
He had sent messages to other family members, including my half-brother, “Eric.”
When I talked to Thomas, he told me that Eric (a newly discovered Christian) told him that he did not want anything to do with him because he could possibly be a product of our father cheating on his mother while Eric was an infant.
Yes, I know it’s Eric’s choice, Thomas had nothing to do with it.
I’m planning a family reunion soon so we can all get to know Thomas. I do not know what to do with Eric, who refuses to acknowledge Thomas’ existence.
If I do not invite Eric, he will make trouble, but if I invite him, I’m afraid he will not welcome Thomas.
I do not know what to do. They are the only siblings I have left since my two older brothers died with my mother. I just want everyone to get together!
Trapped in a family feud
Dear trapped: Of course you want everyone to get together! Unfortunately, you simply can not guarantee any particular result.
Eric has stated that he does not want to have a relationship with Thomas. As you wisely note, it’s up to him.
I think you should invite all family members (including Eric) to your gathering without attaching any qualifications or guarantees.
There is a likelihood that Eric will decide not to attend. It is his choice and his loss. If he participates and behaves badly, so is he.
I hope it goes well for you and the rest of your family.
Dear Amy: I’m 58 years old. I was diagnosed with early Alzheimer’s two years ago. My friends all know about my diagnosis.
My question concerns my sister. She and I had been estranged for almost a decade. Two years ago, I realized that our disagreements were water under the bridge, and we restored a relationship. She lives several states away and has no contact with my friends.
I never revealed my diagnosis to her.
I do not want her to come to the conclusion that I broke barriers between us because of my illness. I did it because I love her, and not because I stare at the light of my own mortality.
I also do not want to bring stress into her life, she has enough of it and she wants to fly to stress state – that’s who she is.
Because she’s my “big sister”, I also know she will go into “I want to take care of you” mode (again, that’s her nature), which is not what I need or want to be the basis for our relationship.
On the other hand, I do not want her to feel betrayed when she inevitably learns about my illness.
Right now I am able to hide my symptoms well. When the day comes when this is not the case, I’m going to tell her (and her children).
I am extremely torn over whether I am making the right decision.
Dear crack: I believe you are making the right decision because right now you are dealing with a very challenging diagnosis. You have the right to control your own health information – for whatever reason you choose.
You seem to be protecting yourself from the stress of your sister’s expected reaction, but I want to remind you that people do not always react in the expected ways.
Now that your relationship with her is on a better footing, you may be closer to breaking this news to her and telling her explicitly in advance that she can help you the most by staying calm and letting you call the shots.
The timing of your diagnosis and reconnection with your sister seems more than random, and in my opinion, awareness of your own mortality is the best reason in the world to reconnect.
Dear Amy: I do not always agree with you, but I admit that I laughed out loud and cheered at your response to “Unsure,” the cad that dropped his wife, who had been his doctor.
The line that got me was, “No doubt you abundantly deserve the happiness that awaits.”
Dear fan: I hope unsure to read the real meaning behind this line.
You can email Amy Dickinson at email@example.com or send a letter to Ask Amy, PO Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.