Life Advice



Annie's Mailbox: Completely Lost

Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar on

Dear Annie: My brother, "Luke," recently returned to our hometown. Since he's been back, all he has done is drink beer. He has made no effort to find a job. I love him, but it is quite obvious that he's an alcoholic.

When Luke lived here 10 years ago, he was constantly intoxicated. When my husband confronted him about his drinking, Luke left town and didn't speak to me for years. Now when I tell him he has had too much to drink, he pushes me away saying he's not a little kid anymore. Maybe not, but he acts like one. Luke needs someone to take care of him, make sure he's eaten and bail him out of jail. He was once stabbed while drunk. I fear that if he continues, he'll be seriously hurt.

I don't know what to do. Luke is not my kid, and he's too old to be my responsibility. How can I help? -- Completely Lost

Dear Lost: We know it will be difficult, but you need to step back and allow Luke to hit bottom. This doesn't mean he will stop drinking. It means you cannot make him stay sober. By bailing him out of jail, making sure he eats and otherwise protecting him, you also enable him to continue drinking. He knows you are there to pick him up when he falls. And until you stop, you will continue to agonize over his drinking. Please contact Al-Anon ( for support and information.

Dear Annie: Is there any accepted etiquette about who plants flowers at a gravesite?

My husband died eight years ago. I commissioned a beautiful gravestone to be hand-carved from native stone. I planted perennials at the grave, and I touch up and replant each year. On numerous occasions, his ex-wife (who has remarried twice) has planted flowers at the grave without consulting me. Most recently, she planted flowers where I had planted early perennials. She built the area up with a mound of soil and mulch so that when her plants grow, they will hide some of the beautiful hand carving on the stone in addition to burying some of my plantings.

I feel this is inappropriate. It is my privilege, not hers, to care for my husband's grave. This is especially grating because she did everything she could to exclude me from my stepchildren's lives after their father's death. We have been able to interact in a friendlier manner in recent years, and she did eventually apologize for her past behavior. I don't want to create a new problem, but this just aggravates the heck out of me. Am I off base? -- Cranky in Kansas


Dear Cranky: While there are no restrictions on who can place flowers at a gravesite, the ex-wife sounds a little passive-aggressive in her approach. Try co- opting her. Call and say you noticed the lovely flowers she left, but trust she didn't intentionally dig up yours and plan to cover the carving so her children couldn't see it. Ask her to come along the next time so the two of you can make it beautiful together and so she will know exactly how you want it to look. If she still digs up your plants, it's OK to remove hers.

Dear Annie: "Crying in Ohio" said her husband of 46 years called her "obese." My wife and I also have been married for 46 years. Two years ago, she began telling me that I was a fat slob who never took a bath or brushed my teeth. Of course, it wasn't true. She now has been diagnosed with advanced Alzheimer's and tells me the same awful things at least twice a week. But she can't help it and, 30 minutes later, doesn't remember saying them.

Maybe there is more going on than an abusive husband calling his wife fat. He could be a loving husband who needs to see a doctor. -- Been There


"Annie's Mailbox" is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar. This column was originally published in 2017. 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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