Dear Margo

Dear Margo column

Q. I have a situation with my best friend of 11 years. Back in February, I fixed her up with a surgical resident and wound up in the middle, encouraging each one to be honest. They refused to tell the other the truth, even when it was what the other really needed to hear. I felt helpless because two of my good friends were hurting each other by playing games.

The guy has since moved to another state for a job, and my friend (with whom I now live) is crushed that he more or less told her there was no chance for a long-distance relationship. The problem now is that my friend has accused me of “deliberately manipulating” their emotions for my own “education about human nature” because I majored in psychology in college! She’s gone so far as to say I purposefully sabotaged their budding relationship, and she is no longer talking to me to the point where she’s had more conversations with the cat than me.

I’m heartbroken. She rejected the tearful apology I offered for unintentionally hurting her by trying to get her and the guy to be truthful with each another. Actually, she yelled that I’m a worthless friend and poison to her. I don’t want to let my oldest friendship die without a fight, but I don’t know whether this is worth fighting for. Your thoughts?

Floored in Syracuse


A. Your situation puts me in mind of an old (and true) saying: “No good deed goes unpunished.” Your game-playing girlfriend is blaming the wrong person; she and the young man have loused this up, not you. If you cannot get her to be realistic and stop making you the fall guy, not to mention conversing with the cat more than you, new living arrangements must be made. If she continues to think you have put her in your own Skinner box, the friendship is, indeed, kaput.

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Q. Here is something I have not seen in your column before. I just spent two months caring for my terminally ill mother in her house, along with my sister and the local hospice. When Mom passed away, I returned home and went back to work. She had asked to be cremated, and her remains were to be mailed to me when the procedure was complete. My sister stayed in Mom’s house to close it up and take care of some final details. Before she returned to her home, she picked up Mom’s ashes. Since neither of us lived in the same town as our mom, we will be having a family interment later in the month in another town.

I asked to have the ashes at my house for a few days before the service. My sister told me no because I am an atheist (as was our mother). My sister is Catholic and tried to get a priest to come and give last rites, but no priest would do this for a non-Catholic. I am very upset that at this very sad time my sister is holding Mom hostage for her own reasons.


A. Well, my dear, not to point out the obvious, but it’s too late now. If no priest would come for your mother when she was alive, the ashes are even less of a draw. I am not sure what your sister hopes to accomplish, but being an atheist, I’m not sure why you are so upset. This should have all the meaning to you of Mormons baptizing non-Mormon dead people. And truly, “Mom” is not being held hostage, an urn is.

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