Mother apparently tried to keep all things equal
Dear Annie: I was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome in 1989 and was unable to work for over two years. I gradually recovered to the point where I could work part time, along with running a small Internet-based business from home. My health is greatly improved, but I still have limitations on my ability to work.
For a number of years, my mother has directed her money manager to send a monthly check to me to help me pay my bills. (I live alone and own my own home.) However, with my mother's increasing senility, my sister was made the executrix and given power of attorney over my mother's finances. Now, my sister wants to write up a document whereby I would agree that all of the payments to me would be deducted from my inheritance. In return, she would deduct from her inheritance all the money my mother gave her to help pay for her two children's college tuitions.
I feel that payments made to me due to chronic illness should not be equated with money for tuition, although I am willing to consider a compromise for peace in the family (say, half of the payments). My sister, however, is adamant that I sign the agreement on her terms or she will take action to reduce future payments to me.
Am I wrong to differentiate between these two types of payments, since one is essentially charity to me and the other is to defray the expenses of my healthy, and gainfully employed, sister? Your opinion would be greatly valued. Stressed Out
Dear Stressed: Most parents prefer to leave their children equal amounts, so as not to show favoritism. We think this is a sound practice. In fact, we believe it's quite possible your mother gave your sister tuition money in order to equalize the amount of money she was giving to you. While it is wonderful that your mother can afford to help you out, it is still a gift. Please sign the agreement.
Dear Annie: My husband and I live in Florida, in a lovely retirement home. We enjoy visits from family and friends. However, our oldest friends fly out at the end of every February to spend a month with their grandchildren, who live nearby. During that time, they assume they can spend four days with us where everything is paid for except the one night they treat us. We wouldn't mind, except when we visit our hometown, they provide no hospitality other than taking us to a local restaurant where we split everything down the middle. Talk about cheap.
We left the Midwest over 30 years ago, and, frankly, we have nothing in common anymore. I'd like to discourage their next visit. How do I go about this? Moved On and Away
Dear Moved On: You discourage a visit by being too busy to accommodate them. Make plans for that time, and let them know you are so sorry, but you'll be unavailable this year and you'll miss them. You can arrange the same level of hectic activity next year, too, if you like.
Dear Annie: I sympathize with "Please Don't Ruin My Vacation Again," who gets sick after flying. This started happening to me some years ago. I don't know why some people get sick, while most don't, but redirecting that little jet of recirculated air or washing my hands every five minutes never made a difference.
You missed the most obvious solution. I simply stopped flying. Now when I take a vacation, I ride the train or drive. The travel time is simply part of the vacation. Why make yourself sick for six days (coming and going) in order to have eight days of fun? I'd rather spend a day traveling and enjoying the scenery, and then have a healthy time when I get there. Salem, Ore.
Dear Salem: Traveling by car or train can be lovely if one has the time, but not all vacations will allow for the extra days. (And it's hard to get to Hawaii by train.)
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