Second Chance at Life

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

This question is at the intersection of family of origin and family of
choice. Or perhaps at the intersection of clashing cultural norms and
politeness. Long life story made very short: I was a happily married
woman for thirty-five years before my husband died. I was single for
ten years. If you can add that puts me in my late sixties. For the last
year I have been in a warm and loving relationship with a woman who
has been my best friend for two decades. She was also widowed, and
we had a long history of taking vacations with our husbands, theatre
and dinner dates, etc, which we continued after the funerals. One
night we had a conversation about very personal and intimate things,
and within a month we were lovers. Now we think of ourselves as
“married” although we live in a state that doesn’t even recognize civil
unions between same-sex couples. A nephew, who used to be a
favorite, is having his third wedding. He’s a successful NYC lawyer and
likes showing off to his colleagues and clients. The invitation received
came with a reply card already checked off in the “Will come
unaccompanied” box, and a quick handwritten note from my nephew
that read “I’m sure you’ll understand.” In fact, I do not understand
and feel both slighted and annoyed. The reality is that my honey has
as little interest in attending as my nephew does in hosting her. But
the idea of a great weekend in NYC seeing some shows and museums
sounds like a grand anniversary weekend. I’m hurt and want to wring
his ears. What’s the right reply?

Second Chance at Life


Dear Second Chance:

You have a variety of options. No matter which you choose, it should
be accompanied by a blunt burst of education for your socially
conscious nephew. Tell him in no uncertain terms that your current
partner is your life partner, for better or worse, for nephew or worse,
just as his fiancée will be to him. Assure him that your relationship will
be damaged in some measure if he fails to understand that and
acknowledge that.


As for the wedding, you can choose to not attend at all, and the same
with a gift, or nothing more than a token. You can tell the truth about
why, or say you and your honey already have plans to be in NYC
another weekend and cannot do both. (You could ask if he’d like to
meet her, if only to goose him a little.) You could choose to attend the
ceremony, because, after all, family is family, but skip the party. But
in no circumstances should you let him off the hook for his rudeness.
You don’t need to trash him to your common kin. But if a little guilt
seeps into his head, maybe he’ll grow up, as he should.