Annie's Mailbox: Love My Uncle, But
Dear Annie: My 88-year-old uncle is mentally ill. He is paranoid and suffers from extreme anxiety. He has refused mental help for years. His three grown children also have indications of mental illness.
It is difficult to be around "Uncle Joe" because he rants about nonsense and claims that everyone is doing something evil to him. He writes books that make no sense, but expects everyone to read them.
Now that the holidays are approaching, my aunt (his sister) thinks Uncle Joe should be invited to all the family celebrations. But, Annie, he ruins it for everybody. If you don't listen and agree with him, he becomes quite threatening.
I think it is rather bossy and controlling of my aunt to expect my uncle to be included in every family event. What can I do? -- Love My Uncle, But
Dear Friend: Please don't ostracize Uncle Joe from family gatherings because he is difficult. Try to understand that he is sick and cannot help the way he behaves. Yes, he should be getting professional help and should probably be on medication, but like many mentally ill people, he doesn't believe he needs either and cannot recognize the toll his behavior takes on the rest of you.
His sister loves him and wants to include him at these family events. Unless he is physically threatening, we are asking you to be tolerant of Uncle Joe and kind to your aunt. These family gatherings don't happen that often. It doesn't diminish you to nod politely in agreement with whatever Uncle Joe says and then turn your attention elsewhere. Please try.
Dear Annie: "James" and I were madly in love when I was 17 and he was 31. After eight years, we agreed to go our separate ways. He later married and has four children.
About 10 years ago, James sent me a letter and enclosed his wife's obituary. She had passed away the previous year. We began corresponding, talking about the good old days. He told his children we were in touch.
After several months, James proposed and said he would hop on the next flight to be with me. I told him I was married (no children) and my husband had been diagnosed with leukemia. After that I stopped writing him.
James is now in his mid-80s, and I am 70. My husband passed away a year ago. Deep down, I still have feelings for James. He was my first love. Should I contact him? Send him my husband's obituary? How do I know whether his children will accept me in his life? -- Still in Love
Dear Still: There's no reason not to contact James, but be prepared: He may have remarried or passed away since your last correspondence. Write him a letter or phone him and let him know you'd like to reestablish contact if he is still interested. Don't worry about his children's reaction. You can deal with that later.
Dear Annie: It is very sad to read story after story of daughters-in-law who shun their husbands' mothers. I realize there are many mother/daughter-in-law relationships that are wonderful, but too often we only hear about the bad ones.
I would give anything to have a mother-in-law with whom to shop, go to the movies, cook and bake together and have family gatherings. Someone I could ask for advice and, lastly, one I could love and cherish.
Unfortunately, my mother-in-law lives six hours away and has very significant dementia. Thank God my husband's sister is caring for her. But I would take her in a second. She is an amazing lady. I wish some of these insecure daughters-in-law would realize what they are missing out on. After all, this is the woman who raised the man they fell in love with. So, obviously, Mom did something right. -- Teresa
This Classic Annie's Mailbox column was originally published in 2014. 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.