Dear Annie: Four months ago, I foolishly accused my 22-year-old daughter of something of which she was innocent. She was deeply hurt. I tearfully told her many times over several days how sorry I am. I begged for forgiveness. She said she is not capable of forgiving once she is hurt so much.
My daughter is engaged and planning a simple wedding in a church next summer. She has become distant and withdrawn, and there is no warmth like there was before. She tells me she is trying hard to get closer and hopes one day to forgive me and has asked for my patience.
My daughter is adopted. Before our falling out, her biological father and I were supposed to walk her down the aisle together. It would be one of the greatest honors of my life. My fear now is that there will be no reconciliation before the wedding. I would not be able to walk her down the aisle, nor even attend her wedding under these circumstances.
My wife and my daughter’s fiance have told her she needs to forgive me, but it hasn’t happened. While I hope she finds it in her heart to do so before the wedding, what should I do if that doesn’t happen?
-- Bereft in California
Dear Bereft: Forgiveness can take a long time, depending upon the offense and the personalities involved. Add to that the stress of planning a wedding, and your daughter may be overwhelmed and unable to deal appropriately with the complications of your relationship. But weddings also can encourage people to reconcile, and we hope that will happen. There is still time.
Unless you are specifically told not to come to the wedding, please attend, even if you don’t have the opportunity to walk the bride down the aisle. Your presence is a show of support for her and also an act of contrition that you are willing to be there in spite of being “demoted” from father of the bride to guest.
Dear Annie: My partner and I moved into our house a year ago. So far, we have met only one of our neighbors. Would it be OK to give some of the others a Christmas card to try to open up a line of friendship? We are a gay couple and don’t wish to offend anyone.
-- Trying To Be a Friendly Neighbor
Dear Trying: It is never inappropriate to send holiday greetings to your neighbors. Those who don’t wish to communicate will not respond. Those who do are likely to send a card in return or at the very least acknowledge you when they see you. But keep in mind that some people are simply busy, go in and out of garages, and rarely have the opportunity to see or chat with their neighbors. Please don’t assume it’s personal.
Dear Annie: “Loving Daughter” couldn’t understand why her aunts and uncles didn’t offer support during her mother’s illness. Here’s another side to that story:
I have two brothers. The younger one and I are close, but my older brother has always been distant. About 30 years ago, he moved 750 miles away. Both of my parents passed away before he returned to town. I have spoken to him once in the past 15 years, and he told me he was angry because he thought I was Mother’s favorite.
He was recently diagnosed with a terminal illness, and his daughter (whom I met once 40 years ago) thinks we should rush to his bedside. He is in a drug-induced coma, wouldn’t know we were there and wouldn’t want us there. We are not going, and the daughter probably wonders why.
-- Siblings Don’t Have to Love Each Other