DEAR ANNIE: I am a disabled single mother of two, and I work part time. We live in a modest mobile home that is becoming too difficult for me to maintain. The hard winter resulted in frequent frozen water pipes, no heat and high utility bills.
My parents have offered to purchase a house for us, and I would only have to pay the taxes. The problem is my sister, who lives out of state with a well-off husband. She does not agree with my parents’ generous offer and is very critical of me. This makes things uncomfortable. She will demand that my parents make a similar offer to her, which she certainly does not need.
Our parents have helped my sister in the past, including an extravagant wedding. Should I refuse the offer in order to keep the minimal peace I have with her? — Desperate Times
DEAR DESPERATE: Please do not make this an issue between you and your sister. It is between your parents and your sister. She begrudges you this house because she believes her parents favor you, and that, for whatever reason, you don’t deserve it. She doesn’t see the things your parents have done for her as equally fair.
You have two children who need a stable home, so we say take the offer, but do your best to maintain it responsibly and repay your parents over time. Your sister accomplishes nothing by preventing you from accepting this deal, except perhaps the satisfaction of knowing that she has power over the family’s decisions. Let your parents discuss it with her and deal with the fallout.
DEAR ANNIE: I’d like to respond to “Baffled in Boston,” the recently widowed woman whose longtime dear friends are now advising her on everything, despite the widow’s competence. She first needs to understand that there has been a change in her relationship with these friends. They’re not accustomed to dealing with an adult who lacks a partner, so they are treating her like a child.
She needs to show them that the loss of her husband didn’t turn her into a 5-year-old. She should go line dancing, join a political group, teach a class or take up skydiving — do something adult that she enjoys, and talk about it when her friends are with her and offer to share it with them. Ask them about their activities. Help them to see that adults can live alone and remain competent, and that her widowhood has not changed her into anything less.
Chances are that one of these people will face the same loss someday. If “Baffled” can show them how to continue on before they need to face that time, they will probably find it easier to accept her widowhood without fear. — Someone Who Has Spent a Lot of Adult Years Alone
DEAR SOMEONE: There is a great deal of wisdom in what you say. And we think it’s a terrific idea for her to share her activities with them, letting them see how well she is managing on her own. Thanks.
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column.