Dear Diane Column — December 3, 2011

Dear Diane,

There is a long standing feud between my sister and I . She always felt like I was my mother’s favorite, and my mom and I were very much alike. I love my sister, but she makes everything into a drama.

Recently my mom passed away and left me in charge of distributing her personal items. I know she loved us both equally, but there are certain items that I would like to have that I know are important to my sister. Is it fair for me to keep these things for myself? They have meaning to me too, and I feel like whatever I do, my sister will feel slighted. I wish I knew which things my mother felt were for me, and which were for my sister. It’s starting to be an issue, and we have enough of those already. Do you pick up that she wanted me to have her emerald ring? We talked about some of the items, but mom passed quickly and I’m left with a mess.


Dear Help, 

There are two ways that you need to examine this. Obviously the monetary value of items will come into play, so it’s important to keep things as evenly distributed as possible. You have a responsibility to the estate, but you must also consider the spirit of your mother’s wishes.

I’m glad that you feel that she loved you both equally. It’s comforting to know that you have always been loved. I’m sure that her most important wish would be that both you and your sister have memories of that love to last a lifetime.

Some people equate objects with specific memories, and most of us can recall certain moments in our lives when we felt particularly appreciated. Because you seem secure in your mom’s love, it might be nice to find out which items are most important to your sister.

Please remember that any items on earth are on temporary loan to us, and we can’t hold on to them forever. By empowering your sister to remember the love, you are honoring your mom’s wishes in the best possible way. I know that she would be proud.

BTW, I pick up that your sister would be fine with you keeping the ring. I see your communication improving if you work together on the estate. Good luck!


Dear Diane, 

My boyfriend of two years has been acting funny. He lost his job about a month ago, and I think he is starting to drink. I’ve never seen him have more than a glass of wine, but the other day he forgot to show up at a party we were supposed to meet at. I called the house and he sounded like he was drunk. I left him several messages the next day, and he didn’t call me back. When we finally connected, he seemed like he was irritated , but said nothing was wrong. I’m confused because we have talked about marriage, but he’s pulled way back. Is there a way to get the relationship back on track? How can I make him understand that I love him and I want to help?


Dear Arlene,

Your boyfriend is indeed having a very hard time. It’s wonderful that you love and support him, but right now he doesn’t feel like being adored. This man is very depressed, and the best thing you can do is recognize that he is going through a time of fear.

Like many people who are out of work, he’s afraid that he may not work again for a long time. I pick up that a great deal of his identity is linked to his career, and suddenly, he’s without that.

At this point, what he needs is a friend. Friends listen, encourage, and occasionally give swift kicks in the rear end. They see and emphasize our strengths and accomplishments.  Most importantly, friends cut us slack when we are not ourselves.

The good news is that if you can focus on being a friend right now, I see him employed and back to his better self by March. Your relationship will be stronger than ever.


Dear Diane,

Yesterday I found out that an employee is stealing from the shop I work at. I saw her put some note cards in her purse before she left, and she didn’t pay for them. I think I should tell the owner, but I don’t want to be responsible for someone getting in trouble.

She’s nice, and a friend of the owner, and I’m afraid of this causing a bigger problem for me. What should I do? Will she get caught?


Dear Stuck, 

I sympathize with your situation. You saw something that COULD be a theft, but could also be an innocent action. Since she’s a friend of the owner, things might not be as they appear. My instinct tells me that in this case, the owner knew about the cards.

Keep an eye on this woman, and look out for future occurrences. If you see suspicious actions again, report them to the owner as neutrally as possible. It is not your job to judge, but to report what you see.

Encourage the owner to install cameras in her shop. It will help her with inventory control, and will back up any of your future observations. She’s lucky to have a sharp employee looking out for her best interests!

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