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Disturbing Secret Revealed As Farmstead Changes Hands

Abigail Van Buren on

DEAR ABBY: I need a second opinion. My grandfather sold me an old farmstead that has been in the family for 200 years. Last week, he showed me a wooded area behind the barn with a human skull. He told me that when his father died more than 50 years ago, he was curious about how long it would take a body to decompose, so he left his body in the woods to keep track of its progress. He has 50 years' worth of pictures and notes. He told the rest of the family that Great-Grandpa had been cremated, and apparently no one questioned him about the ashes.

At this point, the skull is all that's left. I checked with a lawyer, who tells me that in my state no laws were broken. That said, I don't want my great-grandfather's skull sitting in the woods behind my barn! My husband says I should quietly bury it, burn the pictures and the notes and forget about it. That just doesn't feel right to me.

It feels like I'm helping my grandfather get away with something and it feels "icky." Should I tell the rest of the family, or continue allowing them to believe that Great-Granddad was cremated? I'm resenting my grandfather for putting me in the middle of this, and any advice you have would be greatly appreciated. -- BOUGHT MORE THAN I BARGAINED FOR

DEAR BARGAINED: Your letter is a first. Why do I get the impression that your grandfather must have HATED his father to have treated his remains so disrespectfully? The farmstead and everything that goes with it is yours now to keep or dispose of.

What you need to do is decide whether to donate your great-grandfather's skull to a medical or dental school (or coven?), place it in a columbarium or bury it on your property. As to whether to tell the rest of the family, what positive thing would be accomplished by sharing this unpleasantness with them? You are a caring individual; let your conscience be your guide.

DEAR ABBY: I'm a full-figured 25-year-old woman who lives at home. My family has three dogs. Every night, I go into my mother and father's bedroom to pick up the youngest one to hold for a few minutes and say goodnight. The dog likes to sleep closer to the middle of the bed, so I need to bend over to reach the dog. When I bend over, my mother gives me a "look" because she says my shirt starts to reveal my body and I should be "mindful" of my dad.

I wear long T-shirts, long pants, and sometimes bras when I'm around the house because I'm trying to be mindful of my dad and younger brother. I want to be free to not think I need to cover up when I'm doing something small like picking up the dog. Dad is a good man. He has never disrespected me in any way as I matured into a woman, so my mother's extra "carefulness" bothers me. What should I do? -- JUST WANT MY DOG

 

DEAR JUST WANT: Because at 25 you are still living under your mother's roof, you should respect her wishes. Once you get a place of your own, you can bounce around as much as you wish.

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