Dear Annie: I am having issues with my sister, "Sharon." We are both in our early 50s and have always had a good relationship, but she and my husband, "Rick," haven't gotten along in the 26 years I've been married. I would describe their relationship as "tolerant" at best. Because of this, whenever she comes to town, I get together with her without my husband. But he doesn't seem to mind. I do have Sharon over for dinner on occasion, and we manage to get through the evening.
The problem we're facing now: My mother is not well, and we don't know how much longer she has to live. My parents live near my husband and me, and Sharon comes into town to visit regularly and usually stays with them.
Sharon wanted to come into town last month and stay with Rick and me instead of our parents. (She had had an argument with our dad on her previous visit and didn't want to stay with them.) I knew that staying at my house would result in all kinds of stress between my husband and me. He tolerates Sharon in small doses, but to have her stay with us for a few days is really out of the question.
When I told my sister that staying with me would not be possible, she completely shut down. She refuses to talk to me, even though I emailed her explaining my situation. I have contacted my father, my brother and Sharon's husband to help mediate, but to no avail. She wants nothing to do with me. I feel as if she is focusing all the negative things in her life and directing them at me, that I have become her target. Do you think I should continue to reach out to her or let it go? -- Sisterly Stalemate
Dear Sisterly Stalemate: I think the first person you need to talk to is your husband. My guess is Sharon is fed up with your deferring to his preferences all these years. Can he not put their differences aside for just a few days? If his fear is that it would become a habit and she'd be staying with you every month, then you can address that by setting clear terms with your sister. I understand spending time with her might not be a walk in the park, but family is family. Unless she's outright toxic and cruel -- which doesn't seem to be the case, because you've always managed to have a good relationship with her -- there's no need to ban her from ever staying at your home.
Dear Annie: I was unhappy but not surprised to see a recent question by someone whose electricity is being stolen by a guest who owns an electric car. This is becoming a big trend. Also, I'm seeing more and more retail establishments, government buildings, etc., not only providing free charging stations but also reserving prime parking spaces to those who plug the vehicles in. It seems a parking spot reserved as a charging station is now a higher priority near the door than a handicapped parking space! -- Glad I'm Retired
Dear Glad: You may actually be noticing handicapped-accessible charging spots for electrical vehicles. State codes on this matter are still being written, but many businesses aim to make charging spaces accessible to disabled patrons driving electric vehicles. Logistically, this can end up meaning that all the EV spaces are adjacent to handicapped spaces.
If you do spot violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act, file a complaint with the Department of Justice. (There's a handy form on its website.) The ADA relies on such complaints for enforcement.
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