Posted: Wednesday, July 16, 2008 9:12 pm
Dear Annie: My mother suffers from Alzheimer’s and has not really been with us mentally for the last 15 years. She is in a home and my father visits regularly. Dad is in his mid-70s. About 10 years ago, he started seeing a woman several years my junior (I’m 43). I can understand his need for companionship. It’s the age difference that bothers me. Also, he gives large sums of money to this woman. Apparently she has had numerous types of cancers, transplants and whatnot over the years, which have cost thousands of dollars. But she miraculously does not have a single scar on her body from any of these operations. Annie, my sisters and I believe this woman is using my father for money for cosmetic surgeries, but Dad won’t listen to us. We also believe she is seeing someone else behind his back. Short of hiring a detective, we’re out of options. Any advice? — Gloomy in the East Dear Gloomy: Is Dad of sound mind? If so, he probably has a good idea where his money is going and is quite willing to send it there. It’s obvious you don’t like this woman, and you may have good reason, but not enough for your father to stop seeing her. After 10 years, he’s pretty attached, and if she’s cheating, he’s going to have to see it for himself. It won’t do any good to try breaking them up. Your concerns would be better focused making sure Dad has enough money to live on comfortably and that the girlfriend cannot steal his life’s savings. Don’t mention her name when you suggest he talk to a financial planner and get things in order. Dear Annie: My brother-in-law and his wife live about seven hours away and have an annoying habit of dropping in on us unexpectedly. We’ve asked them to let us know in advance, but they never do. As family, they’re always welcome and we do enjoy seeing them, but why don’t they call first to let us know they’re coming? They each have cell phones. The last time, they stopped by just as my wife and I were heading out the door to go on a short trip. Their unexpected overnight stay caused us to cancel our plans. One of these days they are going to show up at our house and we won’t even be home. Are they being passive-aggressive, or is it just bad manners? — Baffled in the Midwest Dear Baffled: Both. A seven-hour drive requires some planning, so they apparently get a kick out of disrupting your lives and taking advantage of your good nature. The only way to break them of this annoying behavior is to be unavailable when they drop by. If you don’t already have another commitment, make one. Then apologize profusely, saying how awful it is that you can’t visit, but you already made other plans that cannot be changed. Wave goodbye on your way out and tell them to please call next time so it doesn’t happen again. We bet it won’t. Dear Annie: “Worried Friend” said someone she knows gives large amounts of food stamps to her grown children. Her friend is breaking the law by giving away her food stamps and she could get in a lot of legal trouble. She receives food stamps and assistance based on her needs only. She could go to jail and be fined if she is found out. — Family Services Worker Dear Family Services Worker: Many readers pointed out that it is illegal to sell, trade or give away food stamps, and that this woman could be fined or imprisoned, not to mention she would lose her food stamp privileges. We hope this will provide her with an excellent reason to stop allowing her children to take advantage of her (although we doubt 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, 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.