Annie Lane: Singing with grandma, against all odds

Published 5:50 pm Tuesday, May 17, 2022

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Dear Annie: My husband comes from a large blended family. His mom is married to a man he has known as his stepdad for his entire life.

Recently, our teenage daughter revealed that she’s uncomfortable around this stepdad because he gropes her inappropriately while hugging and greeting her. My husband mentioned this to his mother and stepdad and politely asked that he stop. They were distant for a while, and then they started sending ugly messages about how they’d rather never speak to us again.

They have since sent messages to extended family that no one should speak to us.

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It’s been crickets since February 2022.

Last week, my husband’s mother was in a major accident. We only found out because his sister called to tell us about it. We had no idea she was in such a state, and my husband is quite upset. Had it not been for the sister who broke ranks, he wouldn’t have known.

It’s his mother. He deserves to get to say goodbye to her. What should we do to at least allow him to speak to and wish his mother goodbye?

— Son Blocked

From Ailing Mom

Dear Blocked Son: He should go and visit his mother as soon as he can. Try your best to put all the anger and resentment he and you have toward both of them aside, and just go visit her. Always know that your teenage daughter was right and brave to speak up about your husband’s stepdad. That takes courage, and you did nothing wrong. But since his mother is not doing well, he should go visit her.

• • •

Dear Annie: Growing up, my siblings and I were not particularly close with my father’s mother. My mom and dad had religious differences with Grandma, and she kept a distance from us. We were like the black sheep of the family! Years later, Grandma had Alzheimer’s. She attended a family reunion (one of my aunts was her caregiver), but she was pretty quiet and not engaged, and most of the family avoided trying to talk to her because she didn’t remember who they were.

Mom thought we should go over and at least make an effort to greet her. We said, “Hi, Grandma!” She perked up! She didn’t make eye contact but she started singing, “Jeremiah was a bullfrog.” She was slapping her knee and laughing! We sang along with her, and she was laughing and singing and slapping her knee. It was the most fun we had ever had with her, and it was all because she had forgotten who we were. She passed away a few years later, and I am so glad to have that last great memory of her singing and laughing!

— Black Sheep


Dear Black Sheep: Thank you for sharing that joyous story about your grandmother. Sometimes, when we forget all the conditioning or prejudgments we learn when we are younger and go back to our innocent selves, we can laugh and sing freely just like children again.

“How Can I Forgive My Cheating Partner?” is out now! Annie Lane’s second anthology — featuring favorite columns on marriage, infidelity, communication and reconciliation — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to