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Advice needed, please...family situation

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Italiahaircolor

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I apologize in advance if this is really long and wordy...

Recently, my family has entered a sort of "family feud." It revolved around my Great Grandmothers wedding set which is why I am posting it here....

My uncle B is involved in a semi-long term relationship with his girlfriend H. They have been together for going on 3 years and they are both in their 50''s. My uncle has a serious alcohol addiction which has spanned over 30 years...he''s hit rock bottom, lost everything but has always continued to drink. He''s never been married before and hasn''t been in many relationships that have lasted for a great length of time. While he''s currently a functioning alcoholic--meaning he holds down a job...he still has great issue that do effect his current relationship with H.

My grandmother and uncle are very close, she favors him by leaps and bounds. Up until recently, she still did his laundry, she''s well into her 80''s and isn''t in the greatest of health but not on her death bed by any means. My grandmother does not know my uncle is drinking and believes he''s been sober for many, many years. He hides the fact that he drinks from my grandmother...so when she is confronted with it by my aunt or my mother is refuses to believe that he is.

So, about two years ago my uncle decided he wanted to get engaged to H. After telling my grandmother this, she offered my great-grandmothers engagement ring and band to him. However, my grandmother forgot that she had already promised the set to my aunt P. My aunt was really upset, but wanted to believe the best in my uncle, at this time no one knew was still drinking. When my aunt and uncle spoke about the ring, my uncle made the comment that he had no real intentions of getting married to H, but was simply "taking her off the market." This only lead my aunt to be even more distressed about the ring because there was no real sentimental value given behind it.

Over time however, my aunt calmed down and they seemed to move past this. Then, my aunt was visiting with friends from work and saw a picture of my uncle completely wasted at bar with a beer in his hand. She confronted him about it, and he walked away from her. About a week later, B and H broke up. H gave B the ring back, and my uncle returned it to my grandmother.

Somehow or another B & H worked their issues out and reconciled...he again took the ring, re-proposed and they were engaged once again. During this time my aunt P and H were talking...and my aunt told H that the ring was at one point in time promised to her and that she was hurt over the fact that she didn''t get the ring. My aunt P is extremely honest to a fault...and we all told her that it was an inappropriate comment to make--P of course felt bad, but explained that she was just being honest.

Fast forward to this past two months, B & H once again broke up, called off the engagement and H gave the ring back. B gave the ring to my grandmother. While my aunt was relieved, thinking the ring is once again safely within the walls of our family, she was still very sympathic to H. H spent a lot of time crying to my aunt about how she "loved the ring" and how she had no idea what to say to her family about the ring. My aunt was pretty put off about how her main concern was ring...not her relationship with B.

So...as of yesterday, B & H decided to once again get back together...and instead of taking time to work on their issues, they are once again getting engaged upon reconciliation.

My aunt is pissed. She feels like obviously their relationship flawed due to his drinking (which is the reason they broke up twice) and feels that ring at this point should be put away and no longer used due to fact that clearly it''s not being used as it was intended to be used. She''s not grapling for the ring, or trying to take it right now...but she simply doesn''t want it used as pawn. The ring is very valuable--and means a lot to her. It''s a few carats worth of well cut, amazing color and clarity OEC''s set in platinum from the the 1950''s.

My grandmother, knowing my love of jewelry, has asked my opinion.

I told her that I felt my uncle should back off on the family ring and have a new one either made or purchase a pre-constructed set similar to it for H. I feel that in a relationship as troubled as theirs is the things of such value shouldn''t be given, taken, given, taken with no end in sight. But, since there are many wiser people here than I, I wanted to ask your opinions on this subject.

TIA!
 

teapot

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I totally agree with you. My friend and his ex both had an addiction problem a d eh gave her his grandmother''s ring, in order to get it back after the broke up for good (they were on and off) he had to give up his dog of 5 years. Long story short, something of that value should not be risked on an on-off relationship.
 

decodelighted

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Hmmm. I''m impressed that H has given the ring back each time. It seems like she understands its a family heirloom and is acting respectfully despite all the emotions involved in a break up (many break ups).

This is between Grandma & yr. Uncle. Tattling about drinking ... diminishing someone''s relationship because of turmoil -- all none of anyone''s business really. IMHO. Its a shame the Aunt didn''t get the ring she was promised, but people change their mind. What was the thread around here where a Gramma demanded a strand of pearls back after they''d been given because of a petty disagreement about wedding guest lists? Oy. Grandma is doing what she wants with her ring. And she''s allowed to, right?
 

JulieN

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I don''t think your uncle should get the ring.

It''s not necessarily that he lies to his mom about the drinking, or that he has drinking problems. He is being duplicitous to his girlfriend and his mother about his intentions regarding marriage and, by extension, the ring, so therefore does not deserve the honor of a precious heirloom meant to symbolize faith and promises.
 

Haven

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I agree that this issue should be between your uncle and your grandmother. Your aunt has every right to be upset, but it''s still your grandmother''s ring to give away, and people do change.

My biggest concern, if I were in your family, would be your uncle''s disease. (I''m not saying you''re NOT concerned about it, Italia, I''m just trying to put it all in perspective.) Alcoholism is a sad and debilitating disease, and it sounds like this man needs someone who truly cares for him to step up and help him find some serious help. The ring issue wouldn''t even be on my radar with an uncle like this spiraling so clearly out of control.
 

Bia

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It's a hard call. I sympathize with both your aunt and your grandmother (your uncle too--alcoholism is a hard thing to beat).

I think if your grandmother changed her mind about who gets the ring, the family needs to respect her wishes because it is in her right to do so. I also don't think your aunt should continue to give her grief about it. Auntie needs to (and I say this with utmost respect) move past it. It's not her ring, you know? <---ETA: It's not the easy thing to do but it IS the adult thing to do IMO.

As for your grandmother, I think the smart thing to do would be to not keep with the back and forth. She's got it now, so she should hold on to it until a.) Uncle B finds someone else (if she still wants to give it to him at the point), or b.) cleans up his act. To be honest, I was surprised he gave it back to your grandmother to begin with. I could see a lot of different scenarios that wouldn't include giving it back. Can we say pawn shop?
Or maybe that's just something my crazy family members would do LOL Obviously it is an important heirloom to him as well. Or at least he respects the fact that it's not just any old ring. Well it is, but you know what I mean


So I say all that to say: The family, all those not including your gran and her son, need to stay out of it. If your grandmother decides she'd rather give it to one of her daughters again, I wouldn't blame her. But it is for her to decide, and she shouldn't be made to feel guilty about that.
 

princesss

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Ditto Deco and Bia. And a hearty ditto to Haven''s paragraph about the alcoholism.
 

HollyS

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Your grandmother asked for your opinion. You gave it. What she does now is entirely up to her.

Now, what do I think?

Your Aunt P needs to express her sentiments to your grandmother (her mother?). I don''t like family dustups either, but if it was, in fact, promised to her as a family heirloom, then she should receive it as such. And why should she not ''be honest'' about how she feels? Who, exactly, has considered her feelings in any of this yo-yo ring giving? Certainly not her brother. Apparently not her mother. She has no need to apologize; she''s watched this farce time and again.

And EVERYBODY in your family needs to make sure your grandmother knows that her favorite son is NOT sober. First, she needs to accept it. Second, it will make her consider his issues while deciding what to do about the ring.

Perhaps it is time for an family intervention for your uncle.
 

purrfectpear

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Mar 31, 2008
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4,079
Here''s how I see it. The fact that B is a drunk has nothing to do with the ring. The fact that Grandma has no idea that B is a still a drunk has nothing to do with the ring. The fact that the aunt is still whinging about the ring indicates that while she may "claim" not to be grapling for the ring, she very clearly is. She has no right to be "pissed" about anything that is between B, H, and Grandma. It isn''t any of her business, period. Grandma has given the ring to B to pass on to H. The rest of the family should butt the hell out. Whether they get married or not, whether they breakup another 4 times, whether they stay engaged for the next 12 years...none of it is anyone''s business except B and H. H has shown class in always returning the ring, and I have no doubt that she will continue to do so.

I think Auntie should get over it. I think you should recognize that this isn''t some family heirloom that you all have an interest in. Until Grandma dies, it''s HERS to decide who wears it.
 

Italiahaircolor

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Date: 4/3/2009 6:43:13 PM
Author: Haven
I agree that this issue should be between your uncle and your grandmother. Your aunt has every right to be upset, but it''s still your grandmother''s ring to give away, and people do change.

My biggest concern, if I were in your family, would be your uncle''s disease. (I''m not saying you''re NOT concerned about it, Italia, I''m just trying to put it all in perspective.) Alcoholism is a sad and debilitating disease, and it sounds like this man needs someone who truly cares for him to step up and help him find some serious help. The ring issue wouldn''t even be on my radar with an uncle like this spiraling so clearly out of control.
I totally understand that it is a disease...and please believe me that I''m not taking anything away from that. However, my family has paid for rehab, taken him into our various homes over the years, and given him money when his situation has become dire. He has had absolutely every opportunity bar none to live a clean and sober life...he chooses not too. He has been a raging alcoholic for over 30 years.

The reason that the family ring is at stake here is that within the last 10 years--at some point--he sold my grandfathers rolex for booze money. We''re not sure when or why...but we suspect it was during the time he lived in California.

We''ve all given up trying to make him sober..fighting for his soberity...now all we can do is try to parlay the damage his drinking causes.
 

Italiahaircolor

Ideal_Rock
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Dec 16, 2007
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Date: 4/3/2009 6:11:06 PM
Author: teapot
I totally agree with you. My friend and his ex both had an addiction problem a d eh gave her his grandmother''s ring, in order to get it back after the broke up for good (they were on and off) he had to give up his dog of 5 years. Long story short, something of that value should not be risked on an on-off relationship.
Thank you for sharing your story...and for understanding our fears.
 

Italiahaircolor

Ideal_Rock
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Dec 16, 2007
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5,184
Date: 4/3/2009 6:20:49 PM
Author: decodelighted
Hmmm. I''m impressed that H has given the ring back each time. It seems like she understands its a family heirloom and is acting respectfully despite all the emotions involved in a break up (many break ups).

This is between Grandma & yr. Uncle. Tattling about drinking ... diminishing someone''s relationship because of turmoil -- all none of anyone''s business really. IMHO. Its a shame the Aunt didn''t get the ring she was promised, but people change their mind. What was the thread around here where a Gramma demanded a strand of pearls back after they''d been given because of a petty disagreement about wedding guest lists? Oy. Grandma is doing what she wants with her ring. And she''s allowed to, right?
Yes, we''re all appreciative of the fact that H has returned the ring during their various break ups. But, legally she is required too. This is different than a gift like the necklace you''re refering to. Techincally speaking, an engagement ring is a contract (if you remove the emotional part of the equation) so while we admire her doing so, she also would be fighting a loosing battle if she didn''t willingly hand it back.

My grandmother refuses to accept that B is drinking. In her younger days, before she started going down hill, she told B that if he was ever to start drinking again, she would never speak to him again. Since then, he''s gone underground with his drinking...and in my grandmothers worsening state, she cannot rationalize that he still is drinking. We''re not trying to deminish his reputation, we''re trying to respect her wishes.
 

Italiahaircolor

Ideal_Rock
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Dec 16, 2007
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Date: 4/3/2009 6:27:34 PM
Author: JulieN
I don''t think your uncle should get the ring.

It''s not necessarily that he lies to his mom about the drinking, or that he has drinking problems. He is being duplicitous to his girlfriend and his mother about his intentions regarding marriage and, by extension, the ring, so therefore does not deserve the honor of a precious heirloom meant to symbolize faith and promises.
That is certianly my feeling towards this issue. Thank you
 

Italiahaircolor

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Date: 4/3/2009 7:35:20 PM
Author: Bia

It''s a hard call. I sympathize with both your aunt and your grandmother (your uncle too--alcoholism is a hard thing to beat).

I think if your grandmother changed her mind about who gets the ring, the family needs to respect her wishes because it is in her right to do so. I also don''t think your aunt should continue to give her grief about it. Auntie needs to (and I say this with utmost respect) move past it. It''s not her ring, you know? <---ETA: It''s not the easy thing to do but it IS the adult thing to do IMO.

As for your grandmother, I think the smart thing to do would be to not keep with the back and forth. She''s got it now, so she should hold on to it until a.) Uncle B finds someone else (if she still wants to give it to him at the point), or b.) cleans up his act. To be honest, I was surprised he gave it back to your grandmother to begin with. I could see a lot of different scenarios that wouldn''t include giving it back. Can we say pawn shop?
Or maybe that''s just something my crazy family members would do LOL Obviously it is an important heirloom to him as well. Or at least he respects the fact that it''s not just any old ring. Well it is, but you know what I mean


So I say all that to say: The family, all those not including your gran and her son, need to stay out of it. If your grandmother decides she''d rather give it to one of her daughters again, I wouldn''t blame her. But it is for her to decide, and she shouldn''t be made to feel guilty about that.
When I spoke with my Aunt this evening, she did say that she isn''t going to fight over "stuff" anymore...that she totally respects my grandmother and her decision to do what is in her heart. However, my Aunt is always going to be hurt by this, weither thats the adult thing to feel or not. My Aunt isn''t a fancy lady and worked a factory job her whole life...she''s salt of the Earth and makes absolutely no demands...but she loved her Grandmother dearly and cared for her. She probably wouldn''t have even worn the ring...but it was the only thing she ever asked for.
 

VRBeauty

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10,287
I think the advice you gave your grandmother (at her request) is spot on. I hope your uncle cleans up his act, and that your aunt gathers up the nerve to discuss her feelings with your grandma directly.

That''s all!
 

Bia

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Date: 4/4/2009 12:35:02 AM
Author: Italiahaircolor
Date: 4/3/2009 7:35:20 PM

Author: Bia


It''s a hard call. I sympathize with both your aunt and your grandmother (your uncle too--alcoholism is a hard thing to beat).


I think if your grandmother changed her mind about who gets the ring, the family needs to respect her wishes because it is in her right to do so. I also don''t think your aunt should continue to give her grief about it. Auntie needs to (and I say this with utmost respect) move past it. It''s not her ring, you know? <---ETA: It''s not the easy thing to do but it IS the adult thing to do IMO.


As for your grandmother, I think the smart thing to do would be to not keep with the back and forth. She''s got it now, so she should hold on to it until a.) Uncle B finds someone else (if she still wants to give it to him at the point), or b.) cleans up his act. To be honest, I was surprised he gave it back to your grandmother to begin with. I could see a lot of different scenarios that wouldn''t include giving it back. Can we say pawn shop?
Or maybe that''s just something my crazy family members would do LOL Obviously it is an important heirloom to him as well. Or at least he respects the fact that it''s not just any old ring. Well it is, but you know what I mean



So I say all that to say: The family, all those not including your gran and her son, need to stay out of it. If your grandmother decides she''d rather give it to one of her daughters again, I wouldn''t blame her. But it is for her to decide, and she shouldn''t be made to feel guilty about that.
When I spoke with my Aunt this evening, she did say that she isn''t going to fight over ''stuff'' anymore...that she totally respects my grandmother and her decision to do what is in her heart. However, my Aunt is always going to be hurt by this, weither thats the adult thing to feel or not. My Aunt isn''t a fancy lady and worked a factory job her whole life...she''s salt of the Earth and makes absolutely no demands...but she loved her Grandmother dearly and cared for her. She probably wouldn''t have even worn the ring...but it was the only thing she ever asked for.
Hey Italia (FI''s playing boxing on PS3 so I''m on my own tonight LOL Thank God for PS!!!)

I just wanted to say that I totally understand that your aunt is hurt but your grandmother''s change of heart regarding the ring, as well as the giving back and taking back due to continuous broken engagements between your uncle and his GF. I wasn''t implying that your aunt is wrong for feeling hurt, because she''s not at all, if it sounded that way, I didn''t intend for it to. The ring was her grandmother''s, given to her mother, which was then supposed to be given to her. The fact that it wasn''t must hurt.


What I meant was that she, or anyone really, should respect your grandmothers wishes, as the ring is hers to give after all. From your first post, the impression I got was that your aunt was angry at the whole thing, or ''pi$$ed,'' as you said. Honestly, IMO, it would make more sense for your grandmother to give the ring to her daughter rather than her son since he mightn''t appreciate it as much as she will (or maybe he does), but again, that''s for your grandmother to decide.

I hope it all works out and that the ring is given to a person who appreciates its value and will treasure it :)
 

ljmorgan

Brilliant_Rock
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1,037
I think that since it''s your grandmother''s jewelry, she should give it to whomever she wants. People so often wrangle as though they are owed something, but ultimately the ring belongs to your grandmother. All of the other factors are irrelevant, and while may serve to make us more sympathetic to one party who wants the ring over another, it doesn''t matter who is more "deserving" or not. I think that the best thing to do is to tell your grandmother that you try to stay out of everyone''s business, and that she should give the ring to whomever she chooses to.
 

LaraOnline

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Date: 4/4/2009 8:43:03 AM
Author: *Lindsey*
I think that since it's your grandmother's jewelry, she should give it to whomever she wants.
Actually, I disagree somewhat with this, although I don't doubt for a minute that this is the general presumption about family herilooms.

I think the whole point about family heirlooms is that they are meant to be handed down, generation after generation, within the family as a kind of 'cultural gift'. And, no, I do not think that excludes daughters in law! Often, DsIL can be very responsible people - well, after all, they ARE members of the family, are they not? And they do, very often, have little heirs and heiresses for the family line, as well!


However, H is not likely to have children... you didn't mention if she does have children from a previous relationship, IHC, but if she does, I wonder if they might not think that THEY will have claims on the ring, should H get to keep the ring next time, to the end? I mean, it's somewhat natural for them to think that way. And let's face it, with the wonderful ride your Uncle's been giving her, it would be only human, too, for her to start thinking she's earned the darned thing!

I think in light of the family nature of the ring - after all, it wasn't originally your Grandmother's - and also in view of your Uncle's selfishness and duplicity (not only in relation to H, but in relation to his mum as well) she needs to reconsider her decision to gift her son the ring. In all likelihood, the original gifting of the ring to Uncle was partly a 'reward' for his 'coming good' after years of wilderness... every mum likes to see all their children happy, after all, and, like the parable of the returning son, sometimes the least worthy gets the fatted calf...

The fact that Grandma asked for your opinion means that even she is starting to see that her 'boy' is fact a middle-aged man with commitment problems. Poor H! And poor Aunt! But at the end of the day, the Aunt should have the ring...he's already had a go.

Perhaps Uncle gets to dip into his savings and provide a ring of his own... sounds like he owes H something genuinely from his (own) heart, in any case.
 

VRBeauty

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Date: 4/4/2009 9:48:34 AM
Author: LaraOnline
Date: 4/4/2009 8:43:03 AM

Author: *Lindsey*


Perhaps Uncle gets to dip into his savings and provide a ring of his own... sounds like he owes H something genuinely from his (own) heart, in any case.
Lara hit on a thought that I wasn''t able to express -- maybe your uncle will take the whole notion of the commitment -- which after all is what the ring symbolizes -- a bit more seriously if he actually has to commit his money to the proposition.
 
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