Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:
I recently returned from a one-week cruise with a friend of a friend. I
didn’t know her well before the trip. I know her too well now. She’s a
former counselor, aged 72 who survived breast cancer a few years
ago. Apparently she’s also courting dementia, which our mutual friend
seems to have known, but didn’t warn me about when I told her I was
considering the cruise. We got a super deal and I had to decide fast.
I’m 62 but everyone thought I was travelling with my mother. She
couldn’t manage the 100’ from our stateroom to the dining room. Plus
she moves the speed of molasses and clung to me like glue, so I saw
about a third of what I might have on my own. I was irritated but lived
through it. We’re back and frankly I don’t want to have to see her
except in broad social settings. But yesterday she called and said she
wanted “to process” the trip. Do I have to?
Dear Had It:
In addition to a lack of sightseeing, you’re also suffering from a lack of
compassion. I think your friend did you a bad turn by not giving you
the truth about what condition your travelling companion was in. But
you deserve some of the blame for what sounds like was an
opportunistic attempt to get a good travel deal without thinking about
consequences. Next time do your due diligence on your companion
much more carefully.
As for the processing, I think you have to hear her out. Do it in a
public place, over tea, not a longer meal. Whatever she has to say
about the experience, listen to her. Clearly she needs to explain to you
her side of whatever happened. When you say irritated, she may have
heard or felt rudeness. I suspect she knows she’s losing it and is
appropriately ashamed and sensitive, even if she’s in denial. Most
importantly for you is that it’s over, and you don’t need to spend more
time with her than tea. Hear her out, and say you’re sorry for anything you did wrong. If pushed, or if she asks to go on another trip, you can
say, We just don’t travel at the same speed. Smile and live through it.