Dear Amy: My grandmother is 91 and lives on her own. Her husband died a year ago. Although she has a few other grandchildren locally, I always have been her favorite.
My mom lives less than a mile away and sees her almost daily, and my grandmother talks to her neighbors, so she isn't totally isolated.
I am in my 40s and live 20 miles away. Ever since I learned to drive, my grandmother has asked me to come over for dinner. She often tries to lock me into a date for the next dinner before the one I'm eating is even finished.
This always has been annoying. Over the years I would jokingly complain about it, but let it go.
This past year, with her living alone, this has gotten worse. Now she expects me to come at least twice a week. She also will complain that "It has been a while" since she last saw me when it has only been a few days.
I cringe when she calls or texts because I know I'll be asked to dinner. Then I have to come up with some excuse — or cave.
I don't want her to stop inviting me over, I just don't want to make it a part of every conversation. Without sounding selfish or uncaring, how do I tell her that this kind of behavior is annoying and makes me not want to answer the phone?
Amy says: I do not give you permission to give your 91-year-old grandmother the brush-off.
One solution is to have a "standing date" once a week with her. Every Sunday afternoon, you will drive over to see her. If you can also see her at other times, that will be a bonus for both of you.
If she agitates about the next date, remind her: "Sunday is coming up. I'm looking forward to it!"
Also consider that your grandmother's memory might be failing. Plus, she was widowed last year. She has been through a lot. You can handle a little annoyance. Show up.
Love overcomes adversity
Dear Amy: I appreciate the support you show in your column toward extraordinary fathers.
You ran a letter from a reader whose father always gave her spending money whenever she went on vacation. (Her husband was offended by it.)
In 1941, my dad was 5 years old when his mother passed away. One week later, his father dumped all eight children onto the state to grow up separately — being used as farmhands at various locations across the state. It was a lonely, abusive and sad childhood.
When he was 13, he ended up at a home next to my mom's farm, and the two kids fell madly in love. It really was an incredible love story.
My father spent his entire life giving everything he could to our family. Every Mother's Day after I became a mother, he gave me money to buy flowers for my yard and vegetables for our garden.
Every scratch ticket he won he put in a card and surprised me for no reason. Every event, every vacation and every holiday, he made extra special with all the wonderful things he did.
The void that has been left in our lives since this wonderful man died is enormous. But the legacy of his selflessness and generosity lives on. I have passed these lessons on to my own children.
The letter writer's husband should be proud that his wife has a thoughtful and generous dad. It's a beautiful attribute.
Amy says: Thank you for this tribute to the tremendous power of love to overwhelm adversity.
Send questions to Amy Dickinson at firstname.lastname@example.org.