Dear Annie: My wife's mother died 20 years ago, and her father married "Lucy" about a year after. They were a very happy couple, although some of my wife's siblings were resentful of their marriage.
When Dad developed Alzheimer's, my wife and I moved closer so she could spend more time with him. During this time, she developed a close friendship with Lucy and also gave Lucy some much-needed downtime. This was the only break Lucy was able to get, even though the other siblings lived nearby.
Dad died recently. To say that Lucy was a wonderful, dedicated wife and caregiver would be an understatement. My wife, the eldest of the kids, helped with pre-planning the funeral as well as with some of the necessary legal paperwork. Unfortunately, after the funeral, two of my wife's sisters decided that the "kids" were entitled to Dad's meager life insurance policy.
My wife and I believe this policy should go to Lucy. She is nearly 70 years old and is going to need the money. The siblings have the entire family (even our children) stirred up against my wife. They are wrongly convinced that she and Lucy conspired against them.
Lucy was a good wife for 19 years and should be left in peace. Dad's will and insurance policy are clear. I think the siblings are showing intense greed over a small amount of money (under $30,000). Am I wrong? Embarrassed by The Family
Dear Embarrassed: Those siblings are trying to punish Lucy for the "crime" of marrying their father, and your wife is caught in the crossfire. Since Dad's will and insurance policy are clear, let the lawyers handle the vultures. Your wife should hold her head up and ignore their mean-spirited selfishness.
Dear Annie: What is your opinion about forcing kids to eat? My wife and I have a fundamental disagreement on this matter. Our children are all under the age of 11. She says, "You eat what you get," and there is no negotiation. You have to finish all your meal, and if you do not, you will get it the next day for breakfast.
On the other hand, I went through this as a child and can tell you it felt like abuse. It destroyed my self-esteem, which could explain many related problems, like failing school, bed-wetting, fighting with siblings and so on. What do you think? Brooklyn, N.Y.
Dear Brooklyn: We suspect the food issue was only one of many that plagued your childhood. Nonetheless, we do not think children should be forced to clean their plates. Children should be exposed to a variety of foods and encouraged to try them, but they should not have to finish every bite.
A child will not suffer from missing an occasional dinner, but to serve that meal again at breakfast is over the top and connects eating with punishment. The two of you should discuss this with your pediatrician.
Dear Annie: I am often invited to private house parties where I am asked to buy items like Tupperware, candles, cosmetics, etc. I don't believe in squandering money on these overpriced goods that I neither want nor need.
Here's the problem: If I don't accept the invitation to attend, the hostess brings the catalog to work and asks me to order something. I don't mind ordering items for nonprofit fundraisers, because the dollars go to a good cause, but these catalogs are not in my budget. Is there a way to bow out gracefully? Flustered
Dear Flustered: Don't feel so guilty. You are the one being imposed upon. Simply say, "Thank you. I'm really not interested, but I will let you know if I change my mind."
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