DEAR AMY: More than 20 years ago, I divorced from my husband because of mental and physical abuse.
Our son is 40 and is happily married with two children.
I happily remarried and am now a widow.
My ex is now on his seventh wife.
I always make the effort to say hello to him at large social gatherings. I can manage to be in his company in a larger group.
Recently my 13-year-old granddaughter had a birthday party (with only family attending) at a local restaurant.
Because of the small group we would all sit at the same table.
I declined to go and asked my daughter-in-law if I should tell the truth as to why I did not attend — if my grandchild asked.
She did not want me to tell the truth and said that my granddaughter would not ask.
I don't know what she was told about why I did not attend the dinner to honor her birthday, but I'm wondering — is my grandchild old enough to know the truth?
I have never told her a lie and don't want to start now.
It bothers me, as I feel I am "protecting" an abuser.
Should I tell these kids the truth (if asked) or should I wait until they are older teenagers?
I have not and do not want to discuss this with my son.
— Wondering Gram
DEAR GRAM: You won't discuss your abusive marriage with your son — who is a grown man with an intimate stake in this — and yet you would like to discuss this with your 13-year-old granddaughter?
I don't think so.
Your granddaughter is never going to say, "So tell me about your marriage, Gram."
And this is good — because the details of your abusive marriage are none of her business.
Telling your story will put your grandchildren in a position of choosing between grandparents in order to show their solidarity to you.
It's enough to say, "A very long time ago, your granddad and I had a rough divorce, and I don't always feel comfortable being around him."
The time to disclose any details is when the kids are older and having intimate relationships of their own.
Living well is the best revenge. If you want to punish your ex-husband for what he did to you, call a lawyer.
If you want to notify someone of how abusive he was, tell his next wife.
DEAR AMY: I'm still recovering from the holidays.
I want to say to shoppers that, generally, employees are doing the best they can.
It doesn't help when customers want you to drop everything for them and then get angry with you when things are out of stock.
Complaining to the corporate office only does a disservice to the employees.
If more people would also tell the corporate office if someone is especially good, that definitely helps us.
It's unfortunate that the whiners of the world make life nasty for the people who are just trying to do their job.
— Cranky Clerk
DEAR CRANKY: Here's another perspective. It's frustrating to stand in a store with money in your pocket and watch a clerk talk on the phone — or chat with another clerk.
Dropping everything to wait on customers is what you should do, and if you can't wait on someone because you already are helping another customer, you should assist the customer by finding an available clerk.
Without question, retail clerks have a very challenging job to do, but customer service matters — and if complaints to the corporate office translates into adequate staffing and better training, then that's good for everyone.
DEAR AMY: My fiance is constantly flirting with girls.
I don't know what to do because I love him, but I am debating if he feels the same.
We are due to get married in two weeks. Permission to call it off?
Should I let the flirting go?
Should I say something?
I am so bewildered.
— Confused Fiancee
DEAR CONFUSED: If you are so confused that you would ask my permission to call off your own wedding, then yes — you have it.
Be brave enough to have a conversation. If you can't have a conversation, then you can't have a marriage.
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