Dear Alma,

I have a friend and we’ve known each other most of our lives. We’ve spent many years together going on family vacations, dealing with marriages and divorce. We had children around the same time and we’ve always been there for each other. We are now at the stage where you take care of your parents. I’m not taking care of my mom, she’s in a nursing home, but my friend decided to take care of her mom at home. Her mother recently died, but before she died, she told my friend that she would come back and visit her. My friend believes that her mother is back in the house. She told me the lights are blinking on and off in one room and she also said there’s one step that squeaks now that never did before. I think that’s crazy and she thinks it’s her mother. What’s the best way to explain to her, her mother cannot come back from the grave?

— Name withheld

Hold up, wait – it could happen…shaking my head, naaawwww, LOL, I don’t think so.

If you’ve followed Ask Alma for half a minute, you’d know I’ve lost my mother, father and one and only big sister Kim, so when it comes to grieving, I’m at the head of the line. I never thought my sister was gonna die, even when she was in a coma. I would talk to her and say, “You can open your eyes now, it’s just me in the room.” After she died, I had to pretend she was in the Bahamas, unreachable for the first six years. I remember telling my father, I don’t know what I’ll do without you. He lovingly answered, “Yes you will, you’ll know.” When it came to my mama, don’t you dare speak the words. I could not even entertain the thought. My heart broke, I was broken. Some might call it irrational, but you’ll never know until it happens to you.

As far as your friend is concerned, like my mother use to say, if you go looking for it honey, you’ll find it. Well, actually she said, if you keep stirring sht, you’ll start to smell it, but we’re a PG publication here, so let’s just keep it moving, LOL. Humans, unlike our furry K-9 friends, don’t go looking for something for the sake of looking. We always have an agenda, an inkling, something that doesn’t sit right in our belly. You know what I’m saying. She’s looking, so just let her look. Yea, she’s stretching, but that’s her broken rubber band to bend.

I’m not sure why her mom would tell her something like that, although we’ve all got our “Why did my mama say that?” stories to tell. If she believes her mom can operate her lights from heaven, it’s nothing you or I can say or do to change that. And why should we? When I see a beautiful red bird, I say hello to my grandmother, she loved birds. I don’t think the red bird is my grandmother, just like if the lights are flickering in my house, my first thought is to change the bulb.

This, my friend, is not a dilemma you should elect yourself to correct. Let her look for her mama in every twinkling star and tri-color rainbow she can find. As long as she’s paying her electric bill and ain’t breaking any laws, l say, let her grieve her mama as she pleeze.

— Alma

What happened to my friend?

Dear Alma,

A couple of months ago a real friendly woman moved into the condo across the hall. She and I hit it off right away. We went shopping and to lunch together. We even went to a music concert and had a real fun time, or so I thought. All of a sudden, she just stopped calling, texting, visiting and really just being my friend. I don’t know what happen. We still speak. She’ll give me a big wave across the parking lot or when I see her in the hall, she seems generally glad to see me, but we just don’t hang out anymore. I’m not sure what happened. I really like her and I want to be her friend. What do you think I should do to get her to talk to me and hang out again?

Signed,

Lost My Running Buddy

Dear Lost My Running Buddy,

Well, hmmm Sugar Plum, did you do something to piss her off or hurt her feelings? Could you possibly have said something that was a bit harsh? Maybe you gave your opinion on a particular subject that didn’t sit well with her. Or, could it be, she just don’t like you?

Have you ever started a new friendship and partway down the loop you think, “you know what, I don’t really like this person all that much?” Usually it takes a run around the romper room to learn the true personality of a person. Most folks start out sane and with good intentions, spoon feeding you what’s whole and wholesome about them. They seem to be on the up and up, until, Lord have mercy, six months later, here she comes outta nowhere, drowning in red wine, Missy Super Rachet. You’re totally blindsided like when you innocently pick up a hitchhiker who has an ax, or a hatchet, LOL, I couldn’t resist. This woman could be Lucy Looneybird relocating from Louisiana, you don’t know.

Anyhow, let it go. Evidently, ya’ll ain’t got the same flow! You can’t make somebody like you nor should you try. If she decided you were not someone she’d like to add to her friends list, so be it, trust her judgment. She knows herself better than you and she’s had time to peep your hold card. Trust me when I say you’re all the better for it. It’s best to find out up front who’s not friend material, than to waste time cooking in a frying pan of foolishness. Great friendships that are worthwhile grow like a beautiful wisteria vine, you couldn’t stop it if you tried, nor would you want to.

Alma Gill’s newsroom experience spans more than 25 years, including various roles at USA Today, Newsday and the Washington Post. Email questions to: alwaysaskalma@gmail.com. Follow her on Facebook at “Ask Alma” and twitter @almaaskalma.

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