Dear Annie: My mother is approaching 80, and after raising three of us, she is in declining health. My brother and sister live near Mom, but I couldn’t handle big-city life, so after I married, we moved to my wife’s hometown.
I don’t drive, so visiting my family always means relying on my wife, and she is perpetually late. And the drive there involves much shouting, as she blames me for our “being tardy.” She also controls the checking account and gives me a small allowance and a low-limit credit card, and I don’t have the authority to call to check the balance or raise the limit.
I inherited a fair amount of money from my uncle, and my wife and I turned it into a successful business, but we work day and night. My wife decided not to have kids in order to dedicate all of our time to making money. That leaves my brother and sister to take care of all of our mother’s needs. My sister-in-law recently called and blasted me for doing so little. I knew she was right, as my brother had just accompanied the ambulance to the hospital (again) in the middle of the night.
My mother recently told me that she has rewritten her will to give the bulk of her sizable estate to my sister and brother. She also said that whatever I do inherit shouldn’t go to my wife or her family. I told her to put my brother in charge of my share, because he will follow her instructions.
I guess what I’m really saying is that money isn’t everything. While I enjoy the benefits of our income, I am jealous of my friends and family who have children. I’m sorry, Mom. If I could only do it all over again, I would.
— A in P
Dear A.: It’s good that you recognize your siblings’ contributions, but please don’t throw up your hands and say there’s nothing you can do. You can do plenty. Why does your wife handle all the money in your household? Are you irresponsible? If not, this is controlling and could be abusive. You also allowed her to control the decision not to have children. If you don’t like these arrangements, why do you permit them to continue? Stop being a passive bystander in your own life. Get counseling and figure out what you want and how to get there.
Dear Annie: I supplement my granddaughter’s education with “extras,” such as teaching her foreign languages and music. I would love to teach her cursive writing this summer. As an educator, it saddens me that this beautiful skill is being lost in the schools amidst other things deemed more important.
Where does one get materials to use when teaching cursive? I imagine a lot of us would love to know.
Dear Grandmother: We think this is a terrific idea. While there are a number of downloadable forms online, you can also go to any school supply store for workbooks that help teach cursive. And your local library or bookstore will have suggestions and materials. All it takes is a patient teacher and a willing student.
Dear Annie: After reading the letter from “Heartbroken Parents in Vermont,” I realize that I am not alone in this terrible situation.
I have not heard from my daughter in more than a year. I sent emails (no response) letting her know I was thinking about her and that I’m here if she needs me. But the last time I sent an email, it bounced back.
There are moments when the pain is unbearable and the worry consumes me, but I try to keep my mind busy with work. I realize that for now, this is what she wants, but it doesn’t take away the terrible ache in my heart.
— Suffering Alone in Montreal
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