DEAR ABBY: For my 50th birthday, 10 years ago, my father, with whom I had a tumultuous relationship, gave me some cherished rings. One belonged to my grandmother and the other to my grandfather, both deceased. It was at a time when we were well placed and it meant to me that he had enough esteem for me to give them to me. They were the only things I had from his parents.

During COVID, I called dad to check on him and my mother-in-law. He quickly turned the conversation to politics, a topic I’ve asked many times over the years and we avoid. The conversation escalated and he hung up on me. A month later, he texted me asking me to return his father’s ring. I always got along well with my mother-in-law, but now it’s up to me to reciprocate too. She says the ring should go to my cousin “Gavin” because he’s the male grandson, and I can keep my grandmother’s ring. So dad wants to take back a gift he gave me and give it to someone else.

I have no ill will towards Gavin, but my dad specifically told me years ago that he didn’t want Gavin to have the rings because he had already sold heirlooms given to him . Abby, Dad’s request for the ring sounds more like punishment for our fight than sentimental feelings for her father. Am I crazy to think that once you’ve given someone a gift, you have no right to ask them back?


DEAR RING: Yes, once a gift is given, it is up to the recipient to do with it what he (or she) wishes. However, in that case, I think you should return your grandfather’s ring to your father. What pleasure will it give you if you keep it, knowing that your father has changed his mind to give it to you? Because it is now “tarnished”, I suspect there would be very little.

DEAR ABBY: While visiting a family member after the death of their loved one, I was informed that instead of crying, they sat down and talked about ME. I was told that they claimed that I had not visited my family members to help them with their grief, when in fact I was there every day.

I’m sick of everyone and everything at this point in my life. I am a 45 year old woman and people have been talking about me for 40 years. I love my family, but that’s enough. I clung to things that caused physical and mental harm to me. My son was also a victim of it and I don’t want him to suffer what I have. What do I have to do?


DEAR MISUNDERSTOOD: Who told you that your loved ones accused you of not having bothered to introduce yourself when in fact you did? Don’t smoke quietly about it. In your situation, I would tell the family what I was told and ask if it is true, because it may not be. Depending on their response, you can then decide to walk away from them and your son.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at or PO Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

Denise W. Whigham