The Straight Dope

Go Back   Straight Dope Message Board > Main > In My Humble Opinion (IMHO)

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 06-23-2007, 11:38 PM
Ms. Pumpkin Ms. Pumpkin is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Is this appropriate? (re: dead relatives)

Would you be offended if a relative you hardly see got in touch with you to ask for personal information about a dead family member?

My mother died when I was 11, and recently I've been thinking about her, and how I never got to know her as an adult, or even as a teenager. I wonder about things like if she was popular in school, what kinds of things interested her, what her first job was, which movie stars she had crushes on...things like that.

She has a sister who lives fairly close by, but I rarely see her. It's been years, actually. I've been thinking about calling her and asking if we could get together to talk about my mother.

If you were in her place, would you be put off by this? I feel like I would be using her, and perhaps prying, and of course bringing up possibly painful feelings for her.

Opinions?
Reply With Quote
Advertisements  
  #2  
Old 06-23-2007, 11:47 PM
Zabali_Clawbane Zabali_Clawbane is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Not at all, I think maybe she's been wondering when you'd ask her these things. I might take a different approach, and contact her to see when you two could visit, and catch up and reconnect. Then, either in the course of re-connecting with your aunt, ask a few questions about her and your mother, or wait until a visit or two to ask her if she could tell you more about what your mother was like. If I were her, I'd welcome the chance to tell you.
__________________
Balance...
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 06-23-2007, 11:48 PM
jsgoddess jsgoddess is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
You rarely see her, but are you pretty friendly when you do?

So long as there isn't an actual estrangement, I'd guess that most people would be okay with it. Some would welcome the opportunity.
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 06-23-2007, 11:48 PM
Galena Galena is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ms. Pumpkin
I wonder about things like if she was popular in school, what kinds of things interested her, what her first job was, which movie stars she had crushes on...things like that.

Opinions?
If I was in similar circumstances, I can't imagine being offended or upset about my niece wanting to know more about her mother. This is your aunt, after all, right?

The kind of questions you are curious about strike me as the kind of things that people like to talk about when they lose loved ones. Of course, it might bring back some feelings of missing her sister, but then again, it might make her happy to be able to share them with you. You should go for it.
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 06-23-2007, 11:56 PM
Buckler of Swashing Buckler of Swashing is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
I agree with most of what has been said so far. If you get along with your aunt when you do see her, I can't imagine it being a problem for any reasonable person.

That said, if maybe you don't know the aunt too well on account of the infrequent contact, it might be both polite and emotionally helpful to try and get to know your aunt as well - in the process of of getting to know your mother through her. Both of you may benefit from striking up a somewhat closer relationship, given you were both such close relatives of the person you've both lost.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 06-23-2007, 11:59 PM
Ms. Pumpkin Ms. Pumpkin is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zabali_Clawbane
Not at all, I think maybe she's been wondering when you'd ask her these things. I might take a different approach, and contact her to see when you two could visit, and catch up and reconnect. Then, either in the course of re-connecting with your aunt, ask a few questions about her and your mother, or wait until a visit or two to ask her if she could tell you more about what your mother was like. If I were her, I'd welcome the chance to tell you.

Yeah, I thought about doing just what you've described, but the reason I haven't kept in touch with her is pretty much my fault, for not making an effort to attend more family get-togethers and stuff. Frankly, I think it would baffle(and possibly concern) my aunt if I just out of the blue decide I want to reconnect. It's the awkwardness of this situation that's really troubling me.
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 06-24-2007, 12:03 AM
jsgoddess jsgoddess is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ms. Pumpkin
Frankly, I think it would baffle(and possibly concern) my aunt if I just out of the blue decide I want to reconnect. It's the awkwardness of this situation that's really troubling me.
I'd consider telling her just what you've told us. You've just recently started really wondering about your mom, and you know that you haven't been extremely social but you'd like to know them both better. I think a lot of people have been in that position.
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 06-24-2007, 12:04 AM
Zabali_Clawbane Zabali_Clawbane is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Life is short, go be with your aunt! This is really coming home to me, after losing my mother suddenly (not entirely unexpected, we knew it was possible, but thought she was out of the woods for the most part) in March.
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 06-24-2007, 12:04 AM
Ms. Pumpkin Ms. Pumpkin is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Quote:
Originally Posted by Buckler of Swashing
That said, if maybe you don't know the aunt too well on account of the infrequent contact, it might be both polite and emotionally helpful to try and get to know your aunt as well - in the process of of getting to know your mother through her. Both of you may benefit from striking up a somewhat closer relationship, given you were both such close relatives of the person you've both lost.
Thanks, I hadn't really considered that, but you're absolutely right!
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 06-24-2007, 12:07 AM
Ms. Pumpkin Ms. Pumpkin is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zabali_Clawbane
Life is short, go be with your aunt! This is really coming home to me, after losing my mother suddenly (not entirely unexpected, we knew it was possible, but thought she was out of the woods for the most part) in March.
I'm so sorry to hear that. Hang in there, ok?


ETA: Someone gave me a book called "Motherless Daughters", can't think of the author's first name, but last is Edelman, I think. It's for women of all ages. I've found it pretty helpful to read about the experiences of others, maybe you would, too.

Last edited by Ms. Pumpkin; 06-24-2007 at 12:11 AM..
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 06-24-2007, 12:18 AM
Ms. Pumpkin Ms. Pumpkin is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Quote:
Originally Posted by jsgoddess
You rarely see her, but are you pretty friendly when you do?
Meant to respond this... Yes, we get along fine and she's always eager to hug me and ask how I'm doing.
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 06-24-2007, 05:51 AM
Sapo Sapo is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Go. Not only you will have your questions answered but you might discover your aunt and start a great relationship.
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 06-24-2007, 06:05 AM
Noone Special Noone Special is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Am I wrong in believing you're in your mid-20's?
If so, it's completely understandable that you are only now coming to grips with your mother dying when you were so young. (And FWIW, sorry you had this tragedy dealt to you in your life )

Tell your aunt what you told us. I think she'll understand and even appreciate it.

And get to know her better, in the process.

Or... what everybody else here is saying.
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 06-24-2007, 09:53 AM
dangermom dangermom is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2000
I think it is completely natural for young adults to go through a period of not-contacting relatives much and then coming back and wanting to re-connect. It happens all the time. I bet your aunt won't think that's weird at all, and if she's an ordinary nice person, she'll be happy to get together and develop a closer relationship and talk about your mom. She'll probably be thrilled, if she's anything like many of the women I know.
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old 06-24-2007, 03:35 PM
Ms. Pumpkin Ms. Pumpkin is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Thanks for the input, everyone, I appreciate it. I think I'm gonna go for it!
Reply With Quote
  #16  
Old 06-24-2007, 05:13 PM
Least Original User Name Ever Least Original User Name Ever is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
I also agree with that's been said. I understand the clumsiness, or possible clumsiness, of the situation, but that shouldn't stop you from trying to connect with your aunt.
Reply With Quote
  #17  
Old 06-24-2007, 06:00 PM
Khadaji Khadaji is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Southern Pennsylvania
Posts: 21,601
I would not be offended and would probably try to help as best I could.
Reply With Quote
  #18  
Old 06-24-2007, 06:35 PM
Omega Glory Omega Glory is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2001
Quote:
Originally Posted by dangermom
I think it is completely natural for young adults to go through a period of not-contacting relatives much and then coming back and wanting to re-connect. It happens all the time. I bet your aunt won't think that's weird at all, and if she's an ordinary nice person, she'll be happy to get together and develop a closer relationship and talk about your mom. She'll probably be thrilled, if she's anything like many of the women I know.
I agree with this. From what you've said about how she reacts to your rare visits, she'll most likely welcome more regular contact. She might consider you one of the only pieces of her sister that she has left, so to speak. Good luck.
Reply With Quote
Reply



Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 09:31 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@chicagoreader.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Publishers - interested in subscribing to the Straight Dope?
Write to: sdsubscriptions@chicagoreader.com.

Copyright 2013 Sun-Times Media, LLC.