Posted: Monday, February 9, 2009 8:01 pm
Dear Annie: I was adopted at birth. I was a “daddy’s girl,” and although he always stood up to my Mom on issues of discipline, it was very clear that Mom and I were oil and water. As the family therapist put it, Dad was the glue that held us together.
When Dad died two years ago, Mom wasted no time appointing an attorney as financial guardian who allowed NO contact between us. She recently died and I want only one thing — a piece of artwork that one of Dad’s graduate students made for him. Dad had promised it to me but died without a will saying so. It has no market value whatsoever, and I cry imagining it going for a dollar at somebody’s yard sale.
My husband formed a very real bond with my father and cares about this issue almost as much as I do. How do we approach the estate? I don’t want to make the hurt worse. — San Diego
Dear San Diego: Talk to the executor of the estate or go to the probate court. Your request for the artwork will be treated respectfully. If you are the only child, you may have a legal claim to this property unless Mom put other specific arrangements in writing. The most painful outcome is if Mom already disposed of the piece, but then you are no worse off than you are now, so it can’t hurt to ask.
Dear Annie: My girlfriends and I recently attended a baby shower for a single gal, given by her mother. It was lovely, except for one of the games. Guests were asked to write down the answers to 15 questions such as “When is the due date?” and “What is the sex of the baby?” As an afterthought, the hostess added question 16: “What was the date of conception?”
Are we nuts to find this offensive? The guest of honor looked totally mortified, and several people remarked that they had never heard such a question at other baby showers. It caused quite a buzz and this crudeness left a bad taste. Is this not the tackiest thing ever, or are we just being prudes? — Puzzled in Palmer
Dear Puzzled: Yes, it’s very tacky. And coming from the mother of the guest of honor, we are surprised at the ambush. This strikes us as hostility disguised as humor. We hope the two of them can reach a truce before their relationship escalates into something truly ugly.
Dear Annie: As a person who grew up in hand-me-downs, I was interested in the letter from “Grannie Loves Them All,” whose rich daughter won’t donate her children’s old clothes to her poorer brother. You mentioned the possibility that Sis may believe her brother would be resentful.
The key is to forget the fact that the clothes are used and remember the sharing. Clothes can be handed down for many reasons, and need is just one of them. It also can be a way to bring the brother and sister together and introduce the cousins to each other.
I once owned a blue Windbreaker that my mother loved to wear. She borrowed it often and wore it on her trips with friends. My jacket had lovely vacations in Europe and Asia. Eventually, because Mom was a bigger size, the seams ripped. She bought a new, larger one and told me I could borrow it any time I wanted.
After Mom died, I visited a friend of hers in the nursing home. I noticed she was shivering, so I handed her the jacket. I told her the story of the Windbreaker and said she could wear it as long as she needed. This woman was a childless widow with no close relatives, and that jacket was a connection to friends. When she died, the staff returned the Windbreaker and now it means even more. — Miss My Mom
Dear Miss: Thanks for sharing your real-life version of “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” and a compelling argument for hand-me-downs.
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611. To find out more about Annie’s Mailbox, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
Published in The Messenger 2.9.09