Ask Amy Amy Dickinson, Ask Amy

Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.

DEAR AMY: Back in 1999, I shared a house with a friend. She was going through a rough time, using drugs and staying up all night. She had a boyfriend who was a terrible influence, and she never defended me from him. When I moved out, what had been a solid friendship was severely damaged. She has since cleaned up her act, but she has never apologized for the way she behaved during that time. I still wish she would. She is planning a weekend 50th birthday party for herself. Another of our good friends is going to attend, and this makes me remember how much I cherished these women -- before. The unresolved past with the first friend makes me balk about attending the party. Should I ask the birthday girl to call me to discuss the past and ask her to acknowledge how bad things were between us, or should I not attend the party and go see the second friend at another time?


DEAR REHASH?: This gathering is an ideal opportunity for you to integrate your past with your present, and I hope you will take it.

It is always a good idea to ask for what you want/need, as long as you don't attach specific expectations, which will just add extra weight to this friendship's freight.

Don't ask your friend to call you so you can upbraid her about her behavior of 15 years ago. You should call her. Tell her you still think about how badly things went when you cohabited. Say, "Some things are unresolved for me and I'd like to talk about them." Make an effort to forgive her. Communicating about this before the gathering could go a long way toward kick-starting your friendship.

DEAR AMY: I am 22 and just received my degree in education. When I was in college, I taught English abroad for a summer in a developing country. I recently received my dream job of a nine-month teaching assignment as a foreign English teacher in the same city that I taught while in college. I am thrilled to have this opportunity to immerse myself in another culture, and my parents, siblings, and long-term boyfriend are all equally excited for me. My one concern is that my grandparents, who are in their late 80s and early 90s, are very upset that I'll be leaving the country for nine months. They are not in good health, and I completely understand why they feel so upset and betrayed that I am leaving. They keep asking me why I want to leave the U.S. and begging me to come home for Christmas. I will have a bit of time off for the holidays, but I would prefer to travel to neighboring countries rather than use all my money and time off to come back to the U.S. How do I explain my reasons for not coming home to my grandparents? Also, how do I deal with my own guilt about leaving my grandparents when they have so little time left?

Excited but Guilty

DEAR EXCITED: One way to deal with your own guilt over leaving would be to leaven it in advance by planning to come home over Christmas.

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I don't want to jump on the guilt wagon -- but, while this might seem like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to travel, it is not. Portugal will always be there. Nana? Not so much.

Promising to see your grandparents at this stage in their lives might seem like a drag to you, but if this makes things easier for them, then why not do it?

DEAR AMY: "Scared of Scams" told a story that is unfortunately very familiar to me. I discovered that my mother was being scammed and had spent thousands of dollars responding to scammers. It was so shocking. This is how we learned that she was in the early stages of dementia. We quickly got power of attorney in order to protect her.

Sad About Scammers

DEAR SAD: "Scared of Scams" reported already having power of attorney -- it may be time for her to put it in effect.