Dear Amy: My father recently died.
I am the child of his first wife. He also had a child with his second wife, to whom he was married for 50 years.
My half-brother “Gerald” and I get along fine.
Our father’s obituary was written so that it sounded like his second wife was his only wife, with no mention of my mother.
Dad was prominent in his field, and his Wikipedia entry also makes no mention of his marriage to my mother.
My name and my children’s names are acknowledged, but the implication is that I am the child of his second wife.
My mom never got over my father’s infidelity and desertion. She is hurt that she has been written out like this.
Should I say something to my brother to change this so that my mother is acknowledged in his history? Should obituaries and biographies be truthful about exes?
I lived my life tiptoeing around the animosity between my parents, and I wish this sad saga to be over.
— Loving, but Sad Daughter
Dear Loving: Many obituaries are actually “death notices,” written by family members and/or funeral homes.
Strictly speaking, obituaries are written by journalists and are published in newspapers and magazines. Obituaries attempt to tell the story of a person’s life, and yes — they should be factually correct.
If “Gerald” wrote the notice, then he omitted your mother’s name purposely and incorrectly, as family members sometimes do (some family members of the deceased even write competing death notices, including different information about their loved-one).
He might have done so to protect his own mother’s feelings or reputation.
Whoever composed your father’s Wikipedia page might have used the death notice as a source, incorrectly leaving out your mother’s name.
Your brother also might have written or edited the Wikipedia entry, deliberately leaving out your mother’s name.
Biographies and Wikipedia entries should be factually correct.
This Wikipedia entry should be revised. You could edit it yourself — and — you should let your brother know that you are concerned that information concerning your father’s life is not only incorrect, but also hurtful to you because it erases your mother’s identity and creates a false impression regarding your own identity.
Unfortunately, the long-standing dynamic in your family is not likely to end — even with your father’s death. But maybe it is time for you to stop tiptoeing.
Dear Amy: I think it is time for pet owners to take a good, long look at their beliefs and behavior and give non-pet people a break.
My mother and uncle struggled with allergies to animals, and the problems ranged from nasty skin lesions and irritated eyes to alarming breathing problems.
When I saw similar problems beginning with me, I promised myself I would never have pets. My health is better as a result.
Please stop regarding me as unfriendly because I do not want to pet your dog or cat or have your bird perch on me, whether or not allergies are a factor.
Please don’t tell me my allergies are not real because you can’t see them.
Please leave your pets at home when you stop in to see me.
Please stop telling me that volunteering at the shelter would change my mind.
Please don’t tell me that letting your dog stray into my yard to poop (and leaving the evidence there) is something I should not complain about “because if you had a pet, you’d understand.”
— No Vet Bills
Dear No Vet: I understand why people see their pets as “family members,” but some humans use this as an excuse for every single choice regarding their pets.
Family members need limits! (Do you bring your toddler where you know she’s not welcome? Do you let Aunt Harriet poop on your neighbor’s lawn?)
Allergies are not the only reason some humans don’t want to be around animals, and yes — pet stewards should respect other peoples’ choices.
Dear Amy: Like “Constantly Tuned In,” I too need a TV to sleep by, which distracts my mind so I can sleep.
As an adult I realized this TV dependency was the result of hearing my mother in the living room watch TV after I went to bed during my childhood. It was comforting.
I now keep the TV in another room (once in a closet! ) or in a TV cabinet with doors.
Then I have the sound without the flickering light.
I sleep beautifully and soundly.
Dear Comforted: I appreciate the antecedent of your habit — and applaud your solution!
(You can email Amy Dickinson at [email protected] or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)
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