DEAR ABBY: For my 50th birthday 10 years ago, my father, with whom I have had a tumultuous relationship, gave me cherished rings as gifts. One was my grandmother’s and the other was my grandfather’s, both of whom are deceased. This was at a time when we were in a good place, and it meant the world to me that he thought enough of me to give them to me. They were the only things I had of his parents.
During COVID, I called Dad to check on him and my stepmom. He quickly turned the conversation to politics, a topic I have asked repeatedly over the years that we avoid. The conversation grew heated, and he hung up on me. A month later, he texted me asking me to return his father’s ring.
I have always gotten along with my stepmom, but now she’s on me to return it, too. She says the ring should go to my cousin “Gavin” because he is the male grandchild, and that I can keep my grandmother’s ring. So Dad wants to take back a gift he gave me and give it to someone else.
I have no ill will toward Gavin, but my dad specifically told me years ago he didn’t want Gavin to have the rings because he had previously sold some family heirlooms he was given. Abby, Dad’s request for the ring seems more like a punishment for our argument than any sentimental feelings about his father. Am I crazy for thinking that once you give someone a gift you don’t have the right to ask for it back? — RING OF FIRE IN FLORIDA
DEAR RING: Yes, once a gift is given, it belongs to the recipient to do with as she (or he) wishes. However, in this case, I think you should return your grandfather’s ring to your dad. How much pleasure will it give you if you keep it, knowing your father had changed his mind about giving it to you? Because it is now “tarnished,” I suspect there would be very little.
DEAR ABBY: While visiting a family member after the death of their loved one, I was informed that instead of grieving, they sat around and talked about ME. I was told they claimed I hadn’t visited family members to help them grieve, when in fact, I was there every day.
I’m fed up with everyone and everything at this point in my life. I’m a 45-year-old woman and they have talked about me for 40 years. I love my family, but enough is enough. I have been holding on to things that have caused damage to me physically and mentally. My son has been on the receiving end of this, too, and I don’t want him to go through what I have. What do I need to do? — MISUNDERSTOOD IN GEORGIA
DEAR MISUNDERSTOOD: Who told you your relatives had accused you of not bothering to show up when, in fact, you did? Do not fume quietly about this. In your situation, I would talk to the family about what I was told and ask if it is true, because it may not be. Depending on their response, you can then decide whether to distance yourself — and your son — from them.
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 www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.