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Can anyone tell me what went wrong?

(156 Posts)
cheneslieges132 Thu 29-Dec-16 10:04:35

I am struggling with an intensely sad problem ... for over 26 years I have been Best Friends with a lady who lived next door to me on a new estate, when I came back from living in France in 1989. She moved 300 miles away 8 years ago, as her daughter wanted to have her living near her, in case her mother ever fell etc etc. I miss her such a lot. She was a soul-mate. We were more than best friends, in fact, we were like sisters and I treated her so very well with a huge amount of help all the time I have known her, because she was very poor, had no job or money, and latterly her health was not good (several serious problems over the last four years). Whatever she needed I would give her willingly, including four paid-for holidays in France (I still have a 2nd home there) and even an electric blanket when she came out of hospital a while ago. Just out of curiosity, I compiled a list for myself of gifts I have given her over the years, and there were more than 40 really wonderful things, including jewellery. My problem is this: 2 years ago we decided mutually not to ever buy each other token Christmas/birthday presents - however, on my birthday last August, she sent me a pair of "Disney" themed pyjamas. They were miles too small for me, and I texted her to kindly let her know, and said I would post them back so that she could get her money back. It all went pear-shaped, and she since then has totally cut me out of her life. She will not speak to me or send text messages any more, she even flatly refused to accept a huge bouguet of gorgeous flowers I sent her via Interflora. The girl who tried to deliver them was very upset (I spoke to Interflora to discover what had happened).
After all those years when were almost inseparable, and such very, very good friends, I am completely destroyed by this. I have tried ever since last August to come to terms with this, but it is terrible. I cannot sleep properly, I wake up crying, and have had many really dreadful nightmares.
Can anyone explain what seems to have happened?
I have attempted to contact her daughter, and she will not speak to me either. I am slowly going mad with worry.

Annierose Thu 29-Dec-16 10:44:42

Oh dear.
I wonder if this may be dementia? You don't say how old she is (and not always relevant anyway) but the obvious health issues make me wonder, as this is the kind of thing that people with dementia do.
She got muddled about gifts - she bought you something she thought you'd like (getting size wrong also seems to crop up often with dementia) and you 'rejected' it (she obviously didn't understand your practical and straightforward approach)

I know this may not help practically, but I wonder if it gives you some insight & comfort.

I wonder how well you know the daughter? I have often found that 'new' friends are never seen in the same light by children, so daughter may see you as a bit of nuisance, rather than as a deeply caring friend.
Is there any other mutual friend who is still in touch, and who you can ask about your friend?
I think your only recourse now would be a letter to the daughter saying how upset you are and indicating your hope to remain friends.

cornergran Thu 29-Dec-16 10:49:24

I can understand how upsetting this is. My thoughts echo those of annierose, if there is another mutual friend you could speak to or if at all possible speak with her daughter. If not perhaps let some time elapse and send a card saying that you miss contact with her. it may be that nothing can be done, but at least you will have tried.

Hilltopgran Thu 29-Dec-16 11:09:53

Reading your post, my first thought as well was Dementia. If your friend is struggling with her memory any new arrangement would not register with her, and an inappropriate gift is not unusual, if her memory is affected she might not remember you and have not been able to understand the flowers were from someone she knew.

As suggested above, a letter explaining how you miss her and are very worried about her is your best option, but you might still not get a reply.

It is hard when you lose touch with someone dear to you, but there is a limit to what you can put yourself through, be kind to yourself and acknowledge the loss of a friendship, and treasure your good memories.

Anniebach Thu 29-Dec-16 11:28:36

I feel sorry for the friend, receiving generous gifts for years and being too poor to match this generosity , she sends a gift and receives a text telling her it doesn't fit and will be returned .

Returning gifts may seem a kind act to the receiver but possibly causes hurt to the giver .

Why dud you need to write a list of all you have bought her?

cheneslieges132 Thu 29-Dec-16 11:33:50

My thanks to Annierose, cornergran and Hilltopgran - I have already written to her daughter (which was totally ignored, even though I included a stamped envelope for a potential reply) and there are no mutual friends etc, so I am stumped. I did send a card also - same thing - no reply at all. Four attempts at phone calls all failed. My age is 78 and my lost friend is 73. And the strange thing is that both my lost friend AND her daughter were both Witnesses to my original Will, and my lost friend was entrusted with it for safe-keeping, also the code for my Safe. Reluctantly, I drew up a new Will in November, with new Witnesses, as I was very unsure how things would "pan out" as it stood! Regarding the bouquet of Flowers, according to Interflora she demanded to know who they were from, and then literally threw them back at the delivery girl, who left in tears. So I am no nearer in getting peace of mind. But thank you for your kind concern for me XX

cheneslieges132 Thu 29-Dec-16 11:38:19

To Annibach - I was just curious to see if there was a clue in any of the things on the list, nothing sinister to be read into that. I loved giving her things, and got real joy at seeing how she enjoyed it too. As I tried to explain, she was the sister I never had, and I loved her dearly. I am so worried if she actually IS now suffering Dementia - and I am so far away and cannot help at all.

Anniebach Thu 29-Dec-16 11:58:48

Her daughter is upset too so quite possibly your friend is hurt and not suffering from dementia. Why were you looking for a clue? A clue to what?

Perhaps you just have to accept your friend has ended the friendship , she was hurt by the return of her gift and you have no choice but to accept her decision.

I do feel so sorry you are upset but I do think returning her gift was a mistake ,

FarNorth Thu 29-Dec-16 12:18:12

I think that returning the gift was a mistake, but also it sounds like your friend may be having cognitive problems and that she has become unreasonably upset by it.

The daughter may not be purposely ignoring you but may have no idea what to say, as her mother has taken against you. Or she may have put your letter aside and then forgotten it.

Sadly, I think you need to accept that this is not a personal rejection of you but that your friend has changed and now does not want the friendship.

Elrel Thu 29-Dec-16 12:18:48

If you can't regift easily unwanted presents are always welcome at your favourite charity shop! This is sad and seems so unnecessary, maybe the bouquet was too big.

Elrel Thu 29-Dec-16 12:25:56

OP - I've just noticed two things.
'I treated her so very well'
'I texted her kindly'

Well, no, you are not the person to say these things about yourself!! Think about it!

Thoughtfully posted by Elrel. Do you see what I mean?!

Anniebach Thu 29-Dec-16 12:26:25

Sorry but my sympathy is with the friend , Gift returned then flowers delivered , perhaps she feels patronised telling her she can get her money back for the gift.

goldengirl Thu 29-Dec-16 12:38:01

It might sound harsh, but perhaps it's time to move on and just remember the happier times you had. It must be awfully upsetting for you after being so close but sadly it's happened and understandably you are grieving for your lost friendship. Go with it but also look towards finding something to enjoy as time passes.

DanniRae Thu 29-Dec-16 12:57:06

I feel for your friend - you were the one doing all the gift giving and she had to be the grateful one throughout your friendship. (How pleased were you with your list of all the presents you had given her?? - a strange thing to do anyway). Then she sends you a present - are you pleased? Do you send her a grateful thank you note? Er, No - you say it doesn't fit and you are sending it back so she can get a refund. In my book this is a thoughtless thing to do. Yes, she is maybe over reacting now but you are not without blame. I am sorry if this is not the reply you sought but you did ask!!

Jalima Thu 29-Dec-16 13:05:59

I wonder if she could not cope with the sense of obligation she felt, being showered with gifts, holidays over the years which she could not possibly match; when she did very kindly send a gift it was returned to her as being unsuitable.

ffinnochio Thu 29-Dec-16 13:27:57

Changing of the Will is pertinent to this issue, and the timing.
For instance, how long was it after your return of the gift and your friend's lack of response did you draw up a new one?
There's a lot of hurt, it seems to me, on both sides, which has much more to do than with a pair of pyjamas and a bouquet of flowers.

Time to let things go.

I'm sorry for your sadness.

Luckygirl Thu 29-Dec-16 13:42:19

I agree it is time to let this go.

I also agree that returning the pjs seems an unfortunate thing to do.

Re-doing the will makes lots of sense under the circumstances. Did you tell your friend you had done this? - I guess that would really put an end to things.

nigglynellie Thu 29-Dec-16 13:51:10

I agree with Annibach, and feel it would have been better to have thanked her for her kind gift, and then if it really was unsuitable for whatever reason, quietly gift it elsewhere. The idea of the gift being returned so that she could get her money back could have been perceived as patronising, particularly in light of the difference in financial status, or that this was your way of saying that you didn't like it!!! I'm sure you meant well, and I'm sorry you're so upset, but I think you could have been a bit tactless!!

harrigran Thu 29-Dec-16 13:59:00

You are looking for answers, really ? Reread your post and if you can't see what is wrong with your question then you can not be helped.

sunseeker Thu 29-Dec-16 14:11:37

I also think returning the gift was a mistake. It is difficult enough trying to find a gift for someone who seems to have everything and then for her efforts to be dismissed must have been hurtful.

I have put on quite a bit of weight lately and a friend gave me some pjs for my birthday - so big a family of 4 could have used them as a tent!! I did not return them to her, just thanked her and donated them to the local charity shop.

rosesarered Thu 29-Dec-16 14:18:47

I would never return a gift to the giver, but reycle it elsewhere.However, it seems too trivial a reason for what followed.I think you are right to draw up another will, and should forget about this former friend, you had good times, but people do change.

Fairydoll2030 Thu 29-Dec-16 15:34:41

Returnng a gift to the giver may be very hurtful. Maybe it took a lot of 'effort' buying you the pyjamas or maybe, as others have suggested, she has dementia. However if she does have dementia I would have thought her daughter would have informed you.

Very strange that you took the trouble to write down all the gifts and holidays you have given her! Why? It's totally irrelevant. Nearly all friendships have more input from one person than the other from time to time - that's life.

You will just have to move on from it. If she doesn't want to be in contact with you there is not much you can do.

Anya Thu 29-Dec-16 15:40:49

Surely this is a wind up? Nobody would be so tactless to return a gift in that way. We all get useless presents, but we can easily give them to someone who would appreciate them or to a charity shop.

BlueBelle Thu 29-Dec-16 15:42:15

Oh my jaw dropped open when I read the 'I returned the gift' bit that is exactly where it all went wrong she had had years of you showering her with gifts then when she tries to give you something nice in return, perhaps at expense to her, you send it back, what a slap in the face you gave her, Its nothing to do with dementia she was hurt beyond repair unfortunately... you speak of your 40 ( how strange to keep a tally) gorgeous presents but when she tries to return some of your kindness you throw it back I have absolutely no doubt you were a lovely friend and a kind and generous person and I m also sure you didn't mean to offend her but you have I m afraid killed that friendship by not being aware of how hurtful it would be to send the present back I don't think there is much you can do to be honest I would keep the door open and send her birthday and Christmas cards maybe a little card or letter now and then time may help but I think you will have to accept it's probably over

nigglynellie Thu 29-Dec-16 15:42:20

I think enclosing a stamped addressed envelope for a reply to a letter was a mistake! 'Too poor to buy a stamp' could well have been how this was interpreted! and added further feelings of inadequacy and anger on the part of your friend and her daughter. Quite honestly, I'd just leave it all alone as you do seem, with the best of intentions,to be making a bad situation infinitely worse.