By Debra Darvick
By Debra Darvick

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Dear Debra,

My mother has told me that she doesn’t want her sister to attend her funeral. Mother is ill but certainly not on her death bed. My aunt is a real scene maker and has been nasty to my mother for as long as I can remember. As an adult, I’ve maintained my distance from her.

When the time comes, I have no idea how I would keep my aunt from attending my mother’s funeral. Our immediate family lives in neighboring communities, so it’s impossible to keep this aunt in the dark until after the funeral. I want to honor my mother’s request, and the idea of my aunt crying crocodile tears over my mother makes me furious. But I can just imagine the uproar it will cause if I try to fulfill my mother’s wish that her sister not attend her funeral.

— Gravely Concerned


Dear Gravely,

My sympathies to you and your mother as you face the inevitable direction of her illness. When that sad day arrives, long may it be in the future, you will have more important concerns than going mano-a-mano with your aunt. Should you have a fridge-sized family member, perhaps turn the task of bouncer over to him.

But practically speaking, if your aunt is a scene maker, the prospect of her acting out at such an emotionally charged time may well cause you more stress than witnessing her shed tears over your mother, crocodile or no.

Funerals are for the living, so perhaps you can talk to your mother about releasing you from honoring her request. At a time when you will be mourning her loss, I am sure she will not want to add to your heartache by having to confront her difficult sister. And who knows? Life is strange. There may be a reconciliation. Your aunt might boycott the funeral or attend and behave herself. Or maybe your mother will outlive her sister, thus making the entire issue moot.

Dear Debra,

I know kids these days can’t be separated from their cell phones, but it’s come to my attention that my daughter has on occasion spoken to me while she’s using the bathroom. I won’t go into details, just trust me on this. Aside from reminding her of the risk of dropping her phone in the loo and contaminating it, what can I say to her to let her know I don’t want to talk to her while she’s, um, downloading?

— Charmin, Not


Dear Charmin, Not,

It’s one thing for women to visit the ladies room en masse before dessert and another thing entirely to be brought into a stall as a fait accompli. Be straight with your daughter. Tell her that you’d prefer she finish her business and then call you after she’s washed and dried her hands. If she persists with the potty talk, the next time she calls from the throne, simply tell her that you will speak to her when she’s finished. And then gently hang up.


Dear Debra,

I’ve met a wonderful woman and can see spending the rest of my life with her. She is newly divorced (for a year now). When I bring up making things more permanent between us, she begins to pull away and says she has “commitment issues.” I don’t want to lose her but, I don’t know how long I should wait around.

— Wanting to Wed


Dear Wanting,

Waiting around is what you do when your car is being serviced, not when you are hoping to marry the woman of your dreams. Your girlfriend is telling you straight out that she’s not ready. By continually bringing up “making things more permanent” you seem to be pushing her toward a relationship the memory of which still holds more grief than joy. There is no surer way to lose someone than to be deaf to her needs and clearly communicated desires.

If you have a timetable by which you must be married, then this may not be the woman for you. But if she is “the one,” give her the space she needs to figure out what and with whom her future will be. No guarantees it will be you, but if you keep pushing, she will likely push back and away for good. RT

Debra Darvick shares her unique take on life, books and more at


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