Dear Annie: My son passed away last year from cancer. Not even two months after his death, my daughter-in-law began dating a married man. She then became pregnant and moved in with him and my two young granddaughters. She had the baby 11 months after my son’s death.
I am upset about her choice to move on so quickly. Worse, she has told my granddaughters that they can call this new man “Daddy” if they want to. I have a big problem with this. First, he is still married to his wife and has two other children. And second, these two little girls just lost their father and haven’t had a chance to grieve or process what’s going on.
I am not going to judge the Other Man. He could very well turn out to be a good guy who simply needed to grow up. But I worry about my grandchildren. Everyone tells me not to say anything because she might take the girls from me. (She has done that before.) But I don’t know how much longer I can keep my mouth closed.
— Unhappy Grandmother
Dear Grandmother: Your daughter-in-law’s behavior seems disrespectful to your son’s memory and also to his children. But we suspect she is afraid of being alone and raising two children by herself. Although we understand the desire to speak up, we can assure you that it will serve no purpose. Please don’t create a situation that will estrange you from your granddaughters. They are going to need you, and you will want to be around to help them remember their father. Do what you must in order to remain in their lives, even if it means keeping your opinions to yourself. Feel free to write us anytime you need to vent.
Dear Annie: I’m 34 and have two grandmothers. One has dementia, and the other has neglected her health to the point where diabetes keeps her from moving around. She’s stopped bathing because getting into the shower is too difficult, and she refuses my father’s suggestion to have an aide.
I haven’t visited either grandmother in two months. I want to remember the first one the way she was. She doesn’t know who I am half the time anyway. She sometimes hallucinates, although pleasantly. She told us a long-dead politician had dropped by. I’ve always had difficulty being around the other because she spends all her time watching the news and hears only the worst things.
My parents aren’t happy about this. One of my grandfathers spent the last three years of his life sick with every known illness, some of which were gross to see. He died with all of us at his side, so I got to watch him turn into a bloated, swollen, ulcerated heaving corpse. That’s why I’d rather not see my grandmothers anymore. Do any of your readers have the same problem?
— N.Y., N.Y.
Dear N.Y.: Of course they do, and some choose to visit anyway, and others can’t be bothered. But we think it says a lot about one’s character to visit these family members because it’s the right thing to do, whether it makes you comfortable or not. It’s a kindness to your grandmothers and to your parents. Please try.
Dear Annie: I’d like to respond to “Cape Coral, Fla.,” whose son is doing poorly in his college math classes.
College is not high school. Too many students simply come to class unprepared and then blame the teacher. At the college level, students must take responsibility for their own learning. If the professors do not return his exam papers, he should go to the department head. The U.S. is the only country I know of where people proudly proclaim that they hate math, don’t understand it and don’t care.
— Retired Community College Teacher
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, 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.
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