Dear Annie: My son's father, "Joe," and I divorced when "Bobby" was very young. Joe remarried and moved to another state. When Bobby was 11, I thought it best for him to go live with his dad so he could have a male role model. Joe was always a good father, just a lousy husband.
Despite financial hardship, I eventually moved to the same state. The problem was Joe's wife. She did everything possible to interfere with my relationship with Bobby, including intercepting phone messages and opening his mail, not giving my name to the school as an emergency contact, giving me false information about Bobby's schedule, and blatantly lying to Joe about everything she and I discussed. Worse, she told Bobby I didn't care about him.
The last time I heard Bobby's voice was a message he left on Mother's Day five years ago. The last time I saw him was at his high school graduation, after which he and his father and stepmother moved to another state where Bobby started college. I have tried to contact him multiple times, to no avail.
I believe he has since discovered the truth, but has not yet called me. At this point, I think he's just embarrassed. But I need him to know something: There is nothing he could do or say that would make me love him less. He is my son. I love him and I miss him. There will be no blame. All he has to do is walk through the front door and say, "Mom, what's for dinner?" -- Waiting Patiently
Dear Waiting: We hope he sees this and will do just that. Meanwhile, please call Joe directly and ask him to tell Bobby that you love him and miss him.
Dear Annie: For anyone who is having difficulty with their student loans, please tell them to check the website ibrinfo.org. It lets you know your rights and explains the ways to lower payments. It also informs debtors about legislation that affects them. -- Jacksonville, Fla.
Dear Jacksonville: Thank you for this useful information. It's not for everyone, but it's worth looking into.
Dear Annie: "Tired in Toutle" was frustrated with dinner guests who stay too long. The best line I've ever heard to get guests to leave is: "Come on, Mother, let's go to bed so these nice folks can go home" -- Sarasota, Fla.
Dear Sarasota: That line was the one the vast majority of our readers suggested. We like it. Here's more:
From Florida: Years ago, we had a party, and a few guests were still hanging around at 4 a.m. My husband and I kept looking at each other wondering how to get them to leave. He disappeared and came out brushing his teeth. Hint taken and they left. We laughed about it for a long time.
Boston: Perhaps instead of two hours of conversation before dinner, she should try a half-hour of pre-dinner talk, allowing time for a relaxed and enjoyable conversation afterward. Most people are not inclined to "eat and run." In fact, the guests may want to leave as badly as the hostess seems to want them to, but leaving immediately after dinner seems rude.
New York: We have a friend who, when it's time to leave, takes off her earrings. This has always been a joke among her friends, but it's effective.
Texas: She should do like my late grandfather. If someone stayed past Grandpa's bedtime, he would take off his shoes and tell my grandmother, "If they're gonna be here all night, better make up a pallet for them on the floor." That usually made the guests leave within a few minutes.
This Classic Annie's Mailbox column was originally published in 2012. To find out more about Classic Annie's Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit Creators Syndicate at www.creators.com.