Should unproven deathbed info be shared?

Ask Amy

Amy Dickinson, Ask Amy Ask Amy

Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.

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DEAR AMY: I live in a small community. Several years ago, a man told my father-in-law that he had been told by a woman who was dying that she was the birth mother of a man who lived in town until he passed away. He was adopted by a local family as a baby. The man who told my father-in-law was now dying himself and felt he needed to tell someone. My father-in-law then, on his deathbed, told my husband the story. We both know two women in town who would/could be the deceased man's biological nieces, and they have his eyes! It could be a true story. Is there any point in telling either of them about it? Or when you are 50, do you just let it go? FlummoxedDEAR FLUMMOXED: As a small-town native (Freeville, N.Y., pop. 522), I also know that this is how people actually do occasionally relate to one another in small places.

Your options are to sit on this information and then disclose it as part of a deathbed confession, or to repeat it, plainly and without dramatic effect, to the possible nieces as something that you heard but cannot confirm. Tell them that because the deathbed disclosure involved them, you thought they should know about it.

DEAR AMY: I received a jolt of recognition upon reading the letter from the husband who did so much and yet was criticized by his wife for not turning off lights, etc. I, too, am a neatnik wife, finding myself complaining to my husband about the same things: not turning off lights, closing doors, putting things away. Yet he is our social organizer and large-scope thinker. I realize that I need to loosen up and appreciate the many contributions my husband makes to our relationship. It's a fine balance, really.Relaxing Neatnik

DEAR RELAXING: Sometimes, seeing yourself reflected in a letter can prompt changes. It happens to me all the time!