Jeanne Phillips

DEAR ABBY: My 23-year-old daughter, “Chloe,” lives with me and refuses to acknowledge her grandmother’s emails and letters, which are delivered to our home. It has been four years since my mother has even seen Chloe. My mother is growing increasingly disappointed and is grieved by Chloe’s apparent distancing. (We live 20 miles apart.)

Over the past year or so, I have calmly asked Chloe to reply to her grandmother’s kind emails and letters. She generally hears me out and then turns and walks away. I have a close and loving relationship with my mother. To me, she’s the world’s greatest mom and grandmother. I also have a warm and loving relationship with my daughter. There’s little that I wouldn’t do to ensure her a safe and comfortable home, a good education and, in general, items that aren’t unreasonable.
My problem is, I am starting to feel caught in the middle of this widening communication gap. It’s embarrassing when I’m at family get-togethers because Chloe stopped attending any family gatherings years ago. Obviously, something has driven my daughter to refuse to acknowledge her grandmother, and for that matter, the rest of our extended and very large family. How do I break this proverbial ice? — DAD IN THE MIDDLE IN VIRGINIA
DEAR DAD: Your daughter is an adult. She, not you, is presumably responsible for her own behavior. I don’t know what happened four years ago that caused Chloe to withdraw, not only from her grandmother but also the entire clan, and neither do you (or you would have mentioned it). Step out from the middle, Dad, and let your daughter deal with the fallout from having excommunicated the entire family. You can’t fix this. Only Chloe can do that.
DEAR ABBY: Twenty years ago, my wife was diagnosed with a life-threatening health issue. We both rebounded from it and have had a good run. Over the last three years, though, her health has turned south again. She has heart, lung, liver and stomach issues that prevent her from being active. Most of her time now is spent just sleeping or sitting. She cannot walk farther than 20 feet without becoming exhausted, and this is with supplementary oxygen. She has other issues as well.
When people ask me how my wife is doing, I tend to respond, what I consider to be humorously but also pragmatically, “Well, I haven’t buried her yet.” But when I do, people become offended. Most of them don’t realize we deal with this every day, and I have no desire to recount every detail of her problems to satisfy their curiosity. At the same time, I realize most are asking out of genuine concern. Is there a better answer? — WISE GUY IN FLORIDA
DEAR WISE GUY: I think so. Try responding, “She’s doing as well as can be expected,” or “Her condition hasn’t changed; I will tell her you asked after her,” and then change the subject.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
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