Friendship’s decline doesn’t stop a solicitation for cash

Published 8:38 am Friday, May 24, 2024

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DEAR ABBY: My friend “Gene” and I have been friends since elementary school. We’re now in our 50s. We were inseparable best friends all those years. When we were about 30, I started noticing our friendship seemed to be a one-way street because he made no effort to initiate contact. 

Gene was gracious and inviting if I called him, but he never called me. Instead, he focused on friends he could benefit from professionally and withdrew from old friends like me. About 20 years ago, I stopped calling him and decided to move on with other friends who were more congenial and courteous. 

You could count on one hand how many times I’ve seen or spoken to Gene in the past 10 years, but today I received a graduation invitation from his son who wants a cash gift for his high school graduation. Abby, his son wouldn’t know me if I tapped him on the shoulder. To say I was appalled is an understatement. 

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I feel no obligation to send money to someone I don’t know, and even less than that given the way Gene abandoned our decades-long friendship years ago. How can I handle this tactfully without coming across as rude or bitter? — SHOCKED IN THE BLUEGRASS STATE


DEAR SHOCKED: The polite way to handle it would be to send the young man a congratulatory card, wishing him well.


DEAR ABBY: I just said goodbye to my third beloved pet. Even though it has gotten easier over time, each passing has been devastating, and I have grieved deeply over their loss. When my mom passed a few years back, I was with her during that peaceful moment. I felt sadness, but nothing approaching the level as it has been with my pets. 

My father’s time is growing near, yet I don’t feel sadness. I have had loving relationships with my parents, but not like some of my friends who described their parents as their rock or their best friend. 

I’m worried that I lack something in my heart, and I should be feeling a greater loss for humans than for pets. Please help me make sense of this. I don’t feel OK. – GRIEVING DIFFERENTLY IN FLORIDA


DEAR GRIEVING: Please accept my sympathy for the loss of your pet, and please stop flogging yourself for your feelings (or lack thereof). Everyone grieves differently. It is possible that you were able to accept the death of your mother because you were no longer interacting with her on the emotional level your friends did with their parents. The same may be true for your father. 

Your pets, on the other hand, were a source of emotional support on a daily basis. Sometimes pets become the equivalents of children, and the loss of that “child” can be more painful than losing one’s parents.


DEAR ABBY: A very dear relative has just announced her engagement. This will be her third marriage. Are gifts necessary? — HOPE NOT IN NEBRASKA


DEAR HOPE NOT: If you attend the festivities, you shouldn’t come empty-handed. Some sort of gift is necessary. However, if you have generously shelled out for your relative’s first two marriages, your third gift need only be something modest you think the couple might enjoy. 


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.


To receive a collection of Abby’s most memorable – and most frequently requested – poems and essays, send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby – Keepers Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)