Life Advice



Annie's Mailbox: Torn Up in Iowa

Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar on

Dear Annie: My first wife died at the age of 36, and I remarried two years later. The day my son, "Andy," turned 18, he moved out of our home and in with my 70-year-old widowed mother. He also talked Mom into giving him $30,000, for which she took out a loan. Now the money is long gone, and Mom has been stuck making the loan payments.

I know Andy was wrong, but my mother also exhibited poor judgment. In an attempt to find a way to pay for college and possibly get a better job to repay the loan, Andy (now 25) enlisted in the Army Reserves. Last week, Andy received his orders and shortly will be deployed to Iraq.

When I told my mother about Andy's impending deployment, she replied, "Well, maybe if he gets killed, I'll get my money back through his life insurance." I was flabbergasted. Not a word of concern about her only grandson's safety. Between clenched teeth, I told her if Andy died, I'd be sure she was paid.

I have since limited my contact with Mom to keep from saying what's on my mind. My siblings can't understand why I don't see her more often. I don't dare tell them the truth. And I haven't told Andy, either, because I don't want him to subconsciously make her wish come true.

It bothers me tremendously that my mother values her money over the life of her grandson. Now what? -- Torn Up in Iowa

Dear Torn Up: Mom is still angry about the money, possibly stretched thin financially, and when faced with the additional stress of Andy's deployment, she reacted inappropriately. This happens more often than you might think. Regardless, you need to clear the air before this eats away at what's left of your relationship. Talk to Mom in person. Tell her you were surprised and disappointed that she didn't seem more concerned about Andy's deployment, and see what she says.

Dear Annie: I just received an invitation for a "Father-To-Be" shower for a friend who will be a first-time dad. The mother-to-be is hosting the party, and she has three children from two previous relationships.

Is this a new thing? Showers for men? I have absolutely no intention of going unless you tell me I am wrong. -- Outraged Friend


Dear Outraged: Etiquette rules change with the times, and while still not common, it's perfectly OK for men to be honored with a baby shower. Usually, such a shower honors both parents together, since having two separate showers for the same parents, same child, is asking a lot from the guests. We could be picky about Mom hosting the shower (that is still inappropriate), but we say not to penalize your friend, the father, or his new baby. Go, and try to have a good time.

Dear Annie: I read the letter from "Caring Daughter," who worried about her elderly mother's hygiene. It's possible her mother may have a brain tumor or has had a series of small strokes.

My father, formerly an accountant, forgot how to do his taxes but couldn't talk about it. Then he began to behave like a little boy, sneaking into the bathroom and out into the yard to smoke, and spilling his coffee all over. When he had a massive stroke, we finally figured out what had been going on.

"Caring" is not dealing with the mother she knew, but a deteriorating version who does not have the judgment and capabilities she once had. They need to be vigilant and have a caring doctor. It also helps to have a sense of humor. It isn't easy to watch the slide, but if they can laugh more and worry about her hygiene less, the process will go more gently for all of them. -- Okanagan Valley, B.C.

Dear B.C.: Thank you for your keen observations and helpful suggestions.


"Annie's Mailbox" is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar. This column was originally published in 2016. To find out more about Classic Annie's Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit Creators Syndicate at




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