Posted: Wednesday, July 20, 2011 8:01 pm
Dear Annie: My parents are in their early 80s. They’ve had some health problems and are slowing down, but they are still able to care for themselves. They make ends meet because they carefully saved over the years.
The problem is my younger sister, who went through a difficult divorce several years ago. “Donna” hasn’t worked much since then, and Mom and Dad are paying nearly all of her expenses. If my parents were to need assisted living, I worry it could be a major hardship.
Donna shows no signs of looking for full-time work. When Mom recently told me that vacuuming hurts her arms, I asked Donna to pitch in with the heavy housework. She agreed to do so, but when I later asked Mom about it, she said Donna told her she didn’t have time because she was so busy applying for jobs and was afraid she might miss a phone call if she left home. (As if cell phones don’t travel.)
I understand that jobs aren’t easy to come by, but couldn’t Donna spend one day a week doing housework and running errands for my parents? I would do it myself, but there have been layoffs and pay cuts at work, and my hours have increased substantially. I get home late, and I’m exhausted. It annoys me that Donna is living a life of leisure at my parents’ expense, and when I say anything, they make excuses for her. Any advice for me? — Emma in Texas
Dear Texas: You cannot force Donna to be a better daughter, nor are your parents likely to insist on it. Since they could use some extra assistance, however, it wouldn’t hurt to talk to Donna again and remind her gently that she currently is the one with the most flexible schedule. Ask her how she thinks she can be of help. Then suggest to your parents that they discuss their future financial needs with their banker, lawyer or other impartial intermediary.
Dear Annie: I belong to an organization that supports women who wish to go to college. We recently presented a sizable scholarship check, in person, to a very needy young high school graduate. We have had no response from her.
We would like to send her a note about this. There is a possibility she could get additional grants in the future, but we feel a response is both courteous and necessary. Is there proper wording for such a letter from us? It seems shameful that our young generation is not taught this proper etiquette. — Midge
Dear Midge: When you presented the scholarship, did the girl thank you in person? If so, she may not realize that it is good form to also express her appreciation in writing. Send her a note saying, “We were delighted to award you the Women’s Scholarship last spring. We would very much like to be kept informed of your progress, so please let us know how you are doing.”
Dear Annie: I read the letter from “Wondering,” who was asked to return her parents’ nativity set to her brother.
Both of my parents have died, and we adult children all enjoy the memories of Christmases with Mom and Dad. We, too, have a special nativity set that has sentimental value to all of us. Our solution is to share it. Each year, a different sibling gets to use the set as part of their Christmas decorations. When it comes time to take down the tree, we pack up the nativity set and send it along to the next person, and so on.
This is a nice way for each of us to have the special display in our own homes and then share the memories when we visit each other. — Remembering in New York
Dear New York: This is a lovely idea. Thank you for suggesting it.
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, c/o Creators Syndicate, 5777 W. Century Blvd., Ste. 700, Los Angeles, CA 90045. 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 7.20.11