Since 2013, I’ve written a monthly advice column for the Detroit Jewish News. I love writing it and thought it would be meaningful and gratifying to expand the love to my Read the Spirit family. You don’t have to be Jewish to have tsuris! (troubles, heartaches, problems.) You just have to have a trouble, problem or dilemma that plagues you by day and disturbs you by night. Write to me at deardebra at renmedia dot us or use the form that accompanies the column.
I am the oldest of three brothers. Our middle brother died this year and it is time to order and pay for his headstone. Baby Brother says he does not have the money, but will reimburse me when middle brother’s estate is settled. I know very well that my brother could afford to contribute his share, but chooses to spend his money on lavish vacations, kitchen renovations and expensive designer clothes by Ralph Lauren.
Baby Brother has pulled this kind of shenanigans before and I’m tired of it. What can I do to make him pull his fair share in this? Big Brother
Dear Big Brother,
Start by dropping the terms Big Brother and Baby Brother, which reinforces the roles of responsible vs irresponsible siblings.
If you can pay up front for the headstone, have your brother sign a promissory note stipulating his commitment to repay you when middle brother’s estate is settled. Provide the executor of your deceased brother’s estate with a notarized copy of it as well. Your personal attorney can guide you here.
If by “shenanigans” you mean that your brother has wiggled out of other financial commitments, you may have to be prepared to pay for the headstone yourself, or take him to court. But if by shenanigans you mean he lets others make the first move and then ponies up, you can be reasonably confident you will be reimbursed.
Since Jewish law requires that a tombstone be prepared to mark the deceased’s burial plot, you might consider ordering one for yourself when you purchase the stone for your deceased brother. Should you predecease your remaining brother, you will not have to worry if he’ll come through.
Two days after I RSVP’d to my younger niece’s wedding, an invitation to her older sister’s wedding arrived! These out-of-town weddings are six months apart. We cannot afford to go to both.
I am peeved that my sister didn’t warn me before I RSVP’d. Wouldn’t it have been more considerate to space the weddings more widely or have one big affair since many of the same people will be invited to both? My sister has already made noises that she expects me to attend both. Aggravated Auntie
Would that we could dictate how our hosts should organize their affairs. But we can’t. If the financial impact makes attending both weddings out of the question for your husband and you, perhaps you can divide and conquer. Let your husband attend one wedding and you attend the other. Or let hubby off the hook and you attend both, kind of a one-for-the-price-of-two solution that also pleases your sister who is expecting you at both. Just be sure to let Bride Number One know immediately that you will be attending solo. Once you have decided how you will handle the RSVP’s, shift your attention from aggravation to celebration. Jewish weddings are called simchas for a reason — simcha means happiness, and that’s what every bride and groom is entitled to on their wedding day.
I am a long-time member of a committee at synagogue. Each committee member signs up at the beginning of the year for that year’s commitments. The chair has this annoying habit of sending out reminders at least every two months. He knows I am happy to do this job, I have never forgotten and have asked him not to send me these reminder emails. Shall I chalk it up to his eccentricities? Perplexed
I’d bet a dozen bagels he wishes he had a whole committee of folks who never needed reminding and never forget to show up! Then he’d be free and clear to go fishing, read the latest New Yorker or check out a new restaurant in town. Even the most dedicated folks sometimes forget to show up and welcome extra reminders.
The committee chair has likely assembled all his volunteers in one address file. You don’t really expect him to include your name for the first mailing, delete it for all subsequent ones and then reinstate it the next year, do you? Next reminder you receive, simply hit the delete key, disposing of the annoying email and maybe your peevishness, too. Better yet, before deleting the chairman’s reminder, hit reply and acknowledge all his hard work. What you call eccentric, I’d call practical. And often thankless.