Granddaughter disturbed by grandmother’s early work

Published 8:32 am Thursday, September 22, 2022

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DEAR ABBY: My grandma died when I was 7. She was my favorite person, and I adored her. She played with me when no one else had the time, taught me how to bake, told me stories and didn’t care that I was playing in the dishwater when she was trying to wash dishes.
I always knew that before she married Grandpa, she had worked as a cook in an American Indian boarding school in the U.S. I now know how atrocious, evil and disgusting those places were. They practiced government- and church-condoned cultural genocide and were places where children were sexually and emotionally abused.
Although I love my grandma, I’m embarrassed, angry and disgusted that she worked in one. If it was church-affiliated, I know she would have overlooked any abuse, even if she saw the act. How can I get past my anger and hurt at someone for something they did a lifetime ago? She has been dead more than 40 years. — HURT GRANDDAUGHTER

DEAR HURT: From your description, your grandmother was a loving, caring, hardworking woman who was trying to feed (and possibly nurture) the children living in the boarding school. It may have been the only job she could find to support herself. While terrible things happened there, they were not her fault.
Child abuse isn’t restricted to any one religion. Today, many religious people in many denominations cannot bring themselves to believe there is such evil among them. If your grandmother had shortcomings, forgive her for them and move on with your life. Dwelling on these negative feelings for someone who was good to you and is long gone isn’t healthy for you.
DEAR ABBY: My wife died two years ago. I met a woman shortly afterward. We dated for a year, shared the same hobbies and were very intimate. We were inseparable. Now, after a year of marriage, we don’t do anything together, and she has put on 30 pounds. Her three girls, who I was led to believe were independent at ages 20, 22 and 24, are actually supported in part by her. Her 15-year-old son lives with us and just stays in his room playing on his computer. He gets food delivered and does no chores.
I make $250k a year. She works and earns about $50k, and I give her an allowance to help pay for her son’s private school and whatever else she wants.
It’s obvious that I’m not No. 1 in her life. Since she just returned from a girls weekend (that I funded), I may not even be No. 2. My friends say I should run, that she’s a gold digger who took advantage of me. I can’t believe I was so wrong, and I’m always giving her “one more chance.” Also, if I come near her cellphone, she goes crazy. As I write this, it seems obvious what’s going on. Am I being taken advantage of in a big way? Could I be missing something? — RANKING LOW IN NORTH CAROLINA

DEAR RANKING: Not knowing your wife, I can’t judge for you whether she’s a gold digger. Of this I am certain, however: You are being taken advantage of no more than you want to be. If you have any desire to save this marriage, tell your wife you are unhappy and offer her the option of counseling. If she refuses, consult an attorney and thank your lucky stars that your marriage has been a short one.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS and getting along with peers and parents is in “What Every Teen Should Know.” Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

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