Dear Abby: I thought it was a loan, but sister won’t give it back

She has concluded a rowing machine was presented to her as a gift, but the brother who bought it wants to reclaim it.

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DEAR ABBY: Several years ago, while living with my sister, I bought a $900 rowing machine I could barely afford. I loved it and used it often. Two years ago, since we were moving out, I decided to let my sister take the rowing machine because my new apartment building had three and hers had no gym at all. It worked perfectly, and I thought I was doing her a favor because she couldn’t afford a gym membership. My intention was to take back the rowing machine when I eventually had room to put it somewhere in a future home.

Well, after recently moving into my new home and requesting she return it, I was told it’s hers now. That was never my intention. She has gotten my other sister and our parents to side with her, and they’re making me feel like a bad person for even asking for it. Now I’m left to shop for a new machine, while the original sits in her new large home gym along with her Peloton.

She never offered to buy it, ever. She just insists it’s hers now because I “gave” it to her. I still need a rowing machine, and I get upset every time I look at new ones online. It just feels wrong that I have to buy another one. What should I do? — BUFF BRO IN ILLINOIS

DEAR BRO: Buy another one. If it wasn’t made absolutely clear to Sissy that you expected the rowing machine to be returned at a later date, she was within her rights to conclude that it was a gift. If you DID make that clear to her when you moved out, then shame on her. But either way, it’s not worth a family feud.

DEAR ABBY: Some close friends have an adult child with a severe disability. They’ve been upfront about it and his need to be present in the community. I applaud their attitude, but on a personal level, I don’t know how to handle it.

They have a big family celebration coming up, assuming things continue to improve COVID-wise. I’m tired of not knowing how to interact with this person. Other people laugh and joke and seem to have a nice relationship with him. I struggle to understand, and I don’t know if I should just be honest and say I don’t know what to do or say. I feel I’m missing out on what others see. How do I move along? — AWKWARD IN MASSACHUSETTS

DEAR AWKWARD: I don’t think it’s necessary to explain to your friends that you feel uncomfortable interacting with their disabled child. I do think you should tell them you would like to interact more fully with him and ASK FOR SUGGESTIONS on how you can achieve that. They wouldn’t find it offensive. In fact, they may appreciate your being forthright, because I’m willing to bet not everyone has been as compassionate as you — or as direct.

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 P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

To receive a collection of Abby’s most memorable — and most frequently requested — poems and essays, send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby — Keepers Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. Shipping and handling are included in the price.

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