My deceased sister apparently hated me, now her daughter is carrying it on

DEAR ABBY: My younger sister passed away in her 40s two years ago. She was my only sibling, and even though we had grown apart as we grew older, I was devastated. We’d had our quarrels in the past. She often put me down, but I took it hard when she passed.

My niece took it upon herself to let me know that my sister never liked me. Now I’m not allowed to see my niece’s children. My mother babysits them, and I’m not allowed to see my mother if they are around. With my schedule and her babysitting, I get to see Mom only once every couple of months. 

Dear Abby counsels a woman whose niece is carrying on a tradition of hate.
Dear Abby counsels a woman whose niece is carrying on a tradition of hate. Getty Images/iStockphoto

I feel so alone, like I have no family left other than my children and husband. I am also mourning the loss of my mother because I am not allowed to see her. I cannot even talk to her on the phone when my niece and her kids are around. Help, please. –– BREAKING HEART IN OHIO

DEAR BREAKING HEART: The only person who can help with this sorry situation is your mother, who is allowing herself to be controlled by your niece. If you haven’t already, tell your mother how hurtful this situation is for you and ask if she really wants her only living daughter to be estranged from her because your sister disliked you, and her daughter is carrying forward the torch. It’s a sad and sorry situation, but nothing will change until she puts her foot down.

DEAR ABBY: I have been married to a wonderful man for 17 years. Recently, I reconnected online with an old high school flame. We have been talking about my hometown, which is where he lives. So many things have changed! I moved away more than 30 years ago and have been missing it lately. 

While texting, my old BF hinted that he loves me. I have always felt like he was the one who got away, which he now knows. We have discussed it and agree that we need to ignore our feelings. (Neither of us wants to hurt my husband.) The problem is, I can’t stop thinking about him and the “what-ifs.” It is making me grumpy and picky with my husband, whom I adore. Will this feeling go away, and are we right to try to deny our feelings? — LEAVING WELL ENOUGH ALONE

DEAR LEAVING: Those feelings will not go away as long as you continue to nurture them by communicating with your old high school flame. Considering that you are married to a husband you adore, you are right that you should ignore the temptation to upset the applecart. Deal with this by ending this online romance, which, if you allow it to distract you further, will destroy your marriage. The grass is not always greener on the other side.

DEAR ABBY: We often have potlucks at my place of work. This year, I have been helping organize them. It is glaringly apparent that some people bring substantial dishes to share while others bring something paltry or nothing at all. How do I word an email to an entire staff that would not seem overbearing or aggressive but states, “If you don’t bring, you don’t eat”? — HUNGRY IN KENTUCKY

DEAR HUNGRY: Here’s how: “It has become apparent that some of you bring substantial dishes to the potlucks, while others bring something paltry or nothing at all. Folks, if you don’t BRING — you don’t EAT!” Sign it, “Love to all, the Happy Organizer.”

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.

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