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This Month:

Dear Madrone,

What do you tell someone who has no clue? I mean, the person in question THINKS that her husband is faithful, her children are smart and her clothes fit. And that's just the beginning of what she doesn't know. She also thinks that the earth, the sun and the moon revolve around her pinky toe. This person, my baby brother's second wife, BTW, I'm not saying her name, let's just say it begins with C for Clueless is the burr on my a**, excuse my French. I have to see her every Sunday for the barbecue, and I have to listen to her go on and on about how great she and everything she touches is. I have to smile, because my mother, god bless, will not allow anything but smiles, and I am a good daughter, I will not upset her just to get the satisfaction of seeing the smile wiped off the face of someone who thinks who she is, but she really isn't. I could put up with it, I really could, if it was just about me, but last Sunday, at the barbecue I was just telling you about, her brat child snatched my daughter's Napoleon, and ate it right in front of her while the tears ran down my honey's face. Clueless laughed it off, saying her baby did mine a favor, since when did a fatso need another Napoleon. I managed not to throttle her, but with difficulty, plus which, my brother, because he has a guilty conscience from all his running around, stuck up for her. Now I ask you!!! Am I within my rights to tell her off? Or must I hold my tongue for peace in the family?

Enraged, but contained (barely) Lewistown

Dear( Barely), Madre Mia, where to begin. First, what peace? That's not why you're holding your tongue. You have many conflicting interests here,

  • You owe your mother respect, even if she's blind
  • You owe your brother loyalty, even if he's a rat
  • You owe your daughter protection, you need to set an example of how not to be a doormat
  • You owe your sister in law nothing. (but mixing it up with her means that you tangle with your brother and your mother)

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that any of the above people deserve what they are owed.. they may or may not. You are in a bind, and there's no way around it, you are going to have to throw someone under the bus. I don't think it should be your daughter. God bless, Donna

Dear Madrone,

I want to go to back to the old country for a visit. My mother tells me I have to bring my cousin Sybil because fifteen years ago, when my mother and father (may he rest) took a tour, they went with Sybil's mother and father, who are my aunt and uncle

(Sybil's father is my mother's brother) and they paid for the hotels, which were not cheap, which my aunt has not let my mother forget. . This is all very well and good, but I would rather eat my salad first than spend any time with the skank. And the feeling is mutual. She hates me. For my birthday, she called my mother's house to say she couldn't make it, because she was in the city going to the opera, but wished me well.

I don't know what to do with my mother, who thinks of us as babies together, which is where it all started, Sybil used to steal the meatball off my spaghetti, eat hers AND mine, and then say it was me. But my mother never saw that, she's a saint.

Aggravated with my cousin, love my mother, Redstone

Dear Aggravated, My advice- find it in your heart to ask your cousin. Then ask. If she hates you, as you say, then she's gonna say no. And you get all the credit, she looks like the ungrateful creep. And if she says yes, then maybe it wasn't so bad. BUT if you can't ask with a gracious heart, under NO CIRCUMSTANCES should you make the offer. It will come back to bite you, guarantee, whether Sybil says yes or no. Because resentment will lodge itself and fester, and one day, for no reason, when your mother asks you to pass the oil and vinegar, you will pick up the salad bowl, slam it on the table, break it in half, maybe even cut yourself, or a little child will get a piece of glass in their eye, and you're the bad guy. Sybil will most likely be at the opera



Pamela Bongiorno Monk is a full time faculty member of Penn State University, where she teaches creative writing, both fiction and non fiction. She pursues freelance writing, authoring plays and feature articles. She has broken nearly as many rules of family as she has enforced.

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