Dear Amy: Twenty-plus years ago my older sister lent me $3,000 at a time when I was struggling to make ends meet. I promised to repay the loan before the end of that year. The time came, and I wrote my sister a check for the full amount but she did not cash it, saying she did not need the money and that the loan was forgiven.
Fast-forward 20 years. While my sister has remained financially stable for the duration, I am now in a better place financially, due to a family member leaving me some money recently.
After learning of the inheritance, my sister asked me for the money back.
I can afford it and so I plan to repay it, but I can't get over her surprising request. Might you offer any words of wisdom for this unsettling sibling situation, which has added stress to our already-distant relationship?
— Lucky Sister
Dear Sister: My perspective is that you should happily, gratefully and graciously write your sister a check, keeping in mind her generosity when you needed it.
I know, I know — it's tacky to appear 20 years after the fact and basically expect repayment for a loan that was "forgiven," but hey, you've had this money for two decades, interest-free. If you didn't have extra money now she would not have asked for it.
Your sister "forgave" this loan. Now you should forgive her this fumble, and do so with a generous and grateful spirit. If you can muster the courage to be the "bigger" sister at this point, you'll feel better about yourself and your older sister — and this will be good for your relationship.
Dear Amy: My teenage daughter is invited to a friend's rite of passage. In addition to any gifts for the girl, the hosting family is asking for a donation to their favorite charity — and they are requesting cash or checks made out to them (the family) for this.
We feel the family has good intentions, but besides getting good "karma" for this gesture, they might also stand to benefit from a sizable tax deduction — and that rankles a bit.
Wouldn't it have been a nicer thing to have said, "We're collecting checks made out to such and such a charity, and here's the information"?
I'm happy to donate, but am I a bad guy to think this is a bit much?
— Gary the Giver
Dear Gary: I agree with you — I would not want to send a check made out to the family unless I wanted to make a donation to the family.
Dear Amy: Regarding the letter from "Concerned Sister in MN", whose sister was involved in an abusive relationship and was determined to marry her abuser, please do not encourage family members and friends to walk away from a sister who is in an abusive relationship. This is exactly what the abuser wants.
Instead this family should gather forces around that girl and make a public display of support. Let the bad guy (or girl) know you are there.
Look the abuser in the eye, and stand firm. No one has to say anything to that person, just be there for the sister. Of course no one who loves this girl would want to have anything to do with a wedding, but she must not be left alone.
Please don't force anyone who is being abused to fend for herself!
— From One Who Cares
Dear One Who Cares: The letter from "Concerned" was about a fully grown woman (not a girl) who was making choices, including the choice to marry someone who had a drinking problem and was abusive when drunk.
I absolutely agree with your admonition not to abandon someone to an abuser, and I appreciate your vision of how a family can stand up to an abuser by being constant and in the abused family member's corner.
Thank you for your response. I counseled Concerned not to abandon her sister, but also agreed with her choice that if she couldn't stomach going to the wedding, she should stay home.