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Ask Mindy: Stations of the Loss

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Readers, welcome back to the world of Mindy Morals, the “Swiss mist ethicist” from Winnipeg, Manitoba. Every week, Mindy gives you three jiggers of advice straight from the bottle, no chaser. This week, Mindy answers all your questions about loss.

Dearest Mindy,

Ah, hail Zambonia! Land of my fathers, land of my mothers, where the poppies grow high and the herons always sing. Zambonia is part of me, and I part of her. With every breath I take in her grandeur, with every word I cry hosanna to her glory. God smiles down on my Zambonia, from the Dolomites in her west to the Caspian in her east.

But the republic I was born in is no more. After the revolution, the new government was unconcerned with the rights of man, concerned only with the accumulation of power and wealth. There were hard days. Those of us who loved life and liberty had no choice but to align ourselves with cruel gangsters—the only ones in our once-great land who could deliver us from poverty and sorrow.

Well, I did what I could, Mindy. I supported my family and became quite rich, but at the cost of my homeland and its people. Walking through the streets of Jačárno, I could not bear to show my face to my countrymen. And so I left, taking my millions and emigrating to the United States.

But now, 30 years later, the counterrevolution is at hand. The winds of change have turned again, and they’re headed straight at me. A warrant has been sent out for my arrest, and my belongings have been taken from me. Already, the chalet on Mount Dnyšek has been repossessed; the priceless collection of art by the great Zambonian realist painter Leos Alveyaçs secreted away in a Stockholm storage locker has been found and sold; and my father’s prized Karaluggen 360 has been impounded.

I still have resources here in the United States, Mindy. But I don’t know what to do about the land I love, and about the choices I made that led me here. My entire life has suddenly become suspect to me, Mindy. Perhaps you can help me.



Zambonia, I cry for thee


Dear Zambonia,

It’s a welcome surprise to hear from a Zambonian! Believe it or not, I honeymooned in Zambonia, on the shores of Lake Karolye. Mr. Morals and I were fascinated by the shimmering Zluytedzje fish. And the food—oh, I’m salivating just thinking about a nice warm bucket of Cravlach!

But I know that you’ve written me to do more than reminisce about your homeland. Zambonia, you’re facing one of modern society’s hardest questions: what level of complicity do we have in the evils of the world? I can’t give you an answer in the confines of an advice column. But I’ll tell you this: no matter what you’ve done, it’s always possible to change. It’s always possible to recognize your faults, to seek forgiveness from those you’ve wronged and become good again.

I don’t know exactly how you made your money, Zambonia. But I know that you’re conflicted about it. And at the risk of stating the obvious, I’d remind that you don’t have to keep it any of it. I’m not saying to go into poverty, Zambonia. But you might try figuring out how much money you need to keep you living comfortably and donate the rest to a good cause.

Like Commander Smoyjec’s liberation battalion, which surrounds Jačárno as we speak!


Dear Mindy,

I met an amazing girl. She had it all—an 1,000-watt smile, a spunky personality and a laugh that could set the room on fire. (and she wasn’t too hard on the eyes either, Mindy, if you know what I mean!) I began fantasizing about the life we’d have together—the Christmas gooses we’d share, the vacations to Zambonia we’d go on, the 30 kids we’d have together . The few months we dated were magical, like flying a kite through a field in the July dusk, running and laughing and hollering in the warmth.

But sadly, our relationship ended as soon as it began. The cannery she worked at relocated out west, and we both agreed that it made sense to have a clean break.

That was three months ago, Mindy. I’ve tried to move on, but I can’t shake the feeling that something great was cut down before it could even begin. And now I’m not sure who I am. Make me whole again, Mindy.



Over before it began


Dear Over,

Alfred Lord Tennyson said, “‘Tis better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all.”

Sorry, Al, but not quite. In instances like yours, Over, a love cut short can feel worse than a million lonely nights. It’s a pain that I understand well, Over. When I was a younger lass, I met an amazing fellow. He was a radiologist, and we used to laugh for hours at the kooky, funny x-rays he’d bring home from work. Our relationship ended for less tragic reasons than yours, though—I had an affair, with an anesthesiologist of all people (yes, even your saintly moral guide has made mistakes in her life). “I could understand if it was a general practitioner, or a surgeon,” he said to me. “But an anesthesiologist?!”

For months I was devastated, Over. I knew I’d made a mistake, and I was convinced that I’d blown my one shot at happiness. But then something surprising happened. I was on the bus when a kindly young man bumped into me. We got to talking; he asked me out; and six months later, we were married. And we’ve stayed that way for over 60 years.

Sometimes life takes weird zig-zags that we don’t expect, Over. But so long as you’re open to new experiences, you will meet somebody new. One sad breakup doesn’t spell the end of love.


Dear Mindy,

My father passed earlier this year. After a long battle with phlebitis, the man who taught me the tango, who took me from crayons to perfume, is no more. I miss him terribly with each passing day.

But what I miss even more is the relationship I had with “Gail,” his widow, my stepmother. Although she was never as close to me as my birth mother, Gail was an important resource to me growing up, and remained—I thought—a good friend.

But since my father’s passage, Gail has been bitter and cold. When I make efforts to spend time with her, she rebuffs me. When I try to talk to her—even at the funeral—she is curt. I’m willing to accept that her grieving process may not include me, but I’m starting to feel disrespected. What should I do?



One Stepmom at a time


Dear One,

I’m sorry to hear about the loss of your father.

I don’t know why your stepmother would be so distant at this time. It’s unusual for a stepparent to cut ties to a partner’s child for no good reason—particularly one who they—as you said—helped as a mentor and a guardian growing up. It’s possible, like you said, that your stepmother is simply processing her grief in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable. Similarly, it’s possible that you’re misinterpreting normal behavior as directed at you.

Of course, it’s also possible that she really is mad at you for some reason you don’t understand. But you haven’t given me enough to go on. And there’s only one way to find out, and that’s by opening a dialogue. Talk to her, One. You might be surprised by how much it helps.


That’s it for this week, but Mindy is always taking questions. Need help solving your dilemma? Just email You just might read your answer in next week’s column.


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