Posted: Tuesday, July 17, 2012 8:00 pm
Dear Annie: My sister, “Lena,” has been a problem for decades. She abused her children physically and continues to abuse the rest of the family emotionally. She is haughty and manipulative and lies to everyone. Her own kids want nothing to do with her.
I am the last person left in the family who talks to Lena. She constantly expects me to run errands for her, loan her money and take care of her when she is sick, which is always. She never reciprocates. This is now affecting my blood pressure, and my children want me to cut her off. I’m ready. But if I do this, it will make certain social situations awkward. We move in the same circles.
It would make it easier to walk away if I had some tools to use. What do I say when people ask about Lena? — Need the Break
Dear Need: It depends on what they are asking. If they want to know how she’s doing, any variation on “fine” or “same as always” is sufficient. If they want to know more, you can simply say, “You should ask Lena.” You don’t want to create a scene or invite a flurry of follow-up questions, so be vague and noncommittal. You don’t owe people an explanation of your relationship or the details of an estrangement.
Dear Annie: My husband, “Mark,” and I have been together for 12 years. It’s a second marriage for both of us. His ex embezzled $30,000 and forged Mark’s name on her credit cards, which she maxed out and he paid for. Their daughter, now 35, calls her father only when she wants money.
Last year, after a health scare, we made our funeral arrangements. Mark’s son died 20 years ago, and at that time, he bought three adjoining cemetery plots. When his ex divorced him, she got the house, car and everything else, but Mark got the burial plots. When his ex and his daughter saw our prepared headstone next to his son’s grave, they became hysterical.
Annie, I am being cremated, and my ashes are being put in Mark’s headstone. The third cemetery plot is for any family member who might want it. They are solely in Mark’s name. Apparently, the ex wanted to be buried next to their son and doesn’t want me in the picture at all.
Now Mark’s daughter barely has anything to do with her father. We feel bad about this, but don’t believe we did anything wrong. Any suggestions, or do we just ignore all the drama? — A Grave Situation
Dear Grave Situation: Ignore it. Unless Mark is willing to sell the adjacent plot to his ex-wife, she has no claim on it. If she wants to be buried near her son, she should look at nearby plots and see what she can arrange.
Dear Annie: I think your answer to “Hurting Mother” was way off base. She definitely stated that her granddaughter had unlocked the door, which means she must have locked access to the dog. What more could she have done? It was up to the parents to watch their child.
It appears to me that “Susan” is looking for a way to make an easy buck off the mother she hates so much. I, too, am glad the little girl will be all right, but it’s her parents who have the problem, not her grandmother. — Huachuca City, Ariz.
Dear Arizona: We must have been sleeping when we read that letter. We agree that Susan sounds like a royal pain and should have kept a closer eye on her child. But it’s the grandmother who has the problem. She wants to see her grandchild again, and an apology may be the only way to do it.
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to email@example.com, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 Third St., Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. 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 7.17.12