DEAR JERKASS: My father is very ill and will not be with us for too much longer.
One of his daughters is estranged from the family and has been for about 20 years. This was by her own doing, and despite overtures from us -- and even her ex-husband admitting that he stirred up the trouble between her and the family -- she has chosen to keep her distance.
Even knowing how sick he is now, she has not reached out to make contact. That is fine; while it hurt my father very much, he has accepted it and never mentions her.
My sister and I, who are responsible for helping our mother with arrangements, wonder whether or not to list her, her daughter and her grandson as survivors in the obituary. Most etiquette guidelines I've found approach the topic from the point of view of the family estranging the child and not the other way around. This daughter is from my father's first marriage, so my sister and I are trying to determine the correct thing to do without worrying our mother.
Of course, we are inclined to leave her out given that she initiated and maintained the estrangement, but we do wonder if there is a point of view that we aren't considering.
DEAR GRAVE DIGGER, Obituaries are not really a form of journalism. Or if they are, they are part of the classifieds that no one cares about unless they are looking for something. There is a thing called “public record” and most of the pertinent information about your dying pops is kept there.
I say all of this because no one is really going to care about finding your estranged step sister.
You don’t owe her anything, and daddy is going to be dead, so…how does that kids song go? “Let it go, let it go, don’t waste balah blah smaltzy crap that has no applicable life lesson”.
So don’t list her. If she gets all pissy about it just remember it was her choice to stop contact. And maybe she made the right choice. Who wants to be related to people writing an advice column and waiting around for the answer while their terminally ill father could croak at any second? Make a decision, idiots.
Judas' Advice Column
This is where I take a Dear Abby column, and add my own brand of advice. I started by calling it Dear Crabby, but that's taken and JERKASS seems more fun.