Life Advice



Annie's Mailbox: Jane's Brother-in-Law

Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar on

Dear Annie: I'm married to a wonderful woman, and we have a young son. My wife has a mentally challenged sister, "Jane," who recently was diagnosed as being legally blind. Jane lives with my mother-in-law. I've tried to get my wife to convince her mother to get Jane into a program for the visually impaired, but Mom refuses. Neither my wife nor my mother-in-law is willing to take the necessary steps to help Jane become somewhat independent, and this is the problem.

I want to prepare Jane for a group home or assisted living, but my wife wants Jane to live with us when her mother dies. Annie, I would love to spend my older years with my wife -- vacations, long weekends, going to the mall, etc. If Jane lives with us, none of these things will be possible without having to take Jane along everywhere we go. I love my wife, but I don't want a lifetime commitment to Jane.

Please help. Counseling hasn't worked, so some direction would be greatly appreciated. -- Jane's Brother-in-Law

Dear Brother-in-Law: It's wonderful that your wife is willing to care for Jane, and you do have an obligation to your sister-in-law that is ongoing. However, it is unfair to Jane to keep her so dependent if she is capable of more. In fact, Jane could outlive you and your wife, and then what?

We suggest you ask Jane's doctor to talk to the family about Jane's capabilities and what's best for her. You need to reassure your wife that you will not neglect her sister, while making it clear that Jane should make the most of her life.

Dear Annie: Several months ago, my mother-in-law passed away in another state. Shortly before her death, she told my husband that she had a safe deposit box at a certain bank, which contained her expensive jewelry. However, when we contacted that bank, we were told that she did not have a box there.

We have been through most of her records and cannot find a receipt, but did find two safe deposit box keys. Mom lived in three states in the last five years and used at least eight different banks. I have contacted all the ones we are aware of, and not one of them even has safe deposit boxes.

Can you point us in the right direction? -- J.K.


Dear J.K.: Go back to the original bank, bring the keys, and explain the problem. If the keys match their boxes, they may be willing to look into it more thoroughly. If that doesn't help, contact your state unclaimed property office or the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators at or

Dear Annie: I'm writing in support of the quiet kids, the ones who work hard, do their best in class and achieve quietly without drawing attention to themselves. The outgoing kids get more notice, more pats on the back, more nominations, more awards. The quiet ones often are overlooked, neglected and ignored.

I am the parent of a quiet kid. My child is a fabulous student, talented and involved, but reserved and often relegated to the background, forgotten as the awards and scholarships are passed out. My child is very deserving, but, sadly, is too often not "on the list."

Quietness isn't a character flaw, but rather a thoughtful attribute. Teachers and others who work with kids, please don't forget to include the quiet achievers on your lists. This can make a huge difference in their future. -- Midwest Mom

Dear Mom: It's true that the squeaky wheel gets the most oil, so please also encourage your children to let those adults responsible for recognizing achievements get to know them. This will serve them well, not only in school, but in life.


"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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