Dear Annie: A friend received a handicap placard after surgery several years ago. He is completely recovered, but both he and his wife still put it in their windshield and park in spaces reserved for the handicapped.
To me, it seems selfish, unethical and insensitive, yet it’s not for me to correct their behavior. At what point should I speak up, or should I just shrug my shoulders and button my mouth?
-- Doing a Slow Burn in the Southwest
Dear Slow Burn: Most placards have an expiration date unless renewed, so we are surprised they haven’t been ticketed yet.
Nonetheless, it’s OK for you to make a note of it should they do this when you are in the car. Simply say, “I’m surprised you still use the handicap placard, since you are obviously well now. These spaces should be used by those who truly need them. I’m so glad you don’t.”
Dear Annie: My grandsons are 5 and 9 and old enough to sleep alone. However, they sleep together in a queen-sized bed, and their mother regularly crawls in with them. She has been doing that since they were toddlers.
The boys have told their mother that they do not want her in the bed any longer, but she continues to do so, saying they need her. My son and his wife have been separated for more than six months, and the boys frequently tell their father how upset they are about this, but he doesn’t know what to do because they don’t live together.
What steps can be taken to prevent this from occurring? Should I contact Child Protective Services? I feel it jeopardizes the welfare of my grandchildren, and I want it to stop.
-- Concerned Grandmother
Dear Concerned: Undoubtedly, your daughter-in-law is comforted by being physically close to the children, but she should not be using them as an antidote to her loneliness, especially when they have asked her not to do so.
Whether or not your son still lives with Mom, he is still their father. If his children are complaining to him, he absolutely must discuss the situation with his wife. He also can approach their pediatrician and, if necessary, a therapist. Mom surely does not want to hurt her children.
Dear Annie: The letter from “Mourning My Brother” really struck a nerve. She said her brother died suddenly while he was still estranged from his young-adult children, and now there is no opportunity to reconcile.
My parents were married for 35 years. After Mom died, my father remarried, and so began 25 years of estrangement (by choice) from his children and grandchildren. After 10 years of unsuccessful attempts to heal the relationship, I gave up and moved on. I made the conscious choice not to subject my husband and children to my emotional turmoil. When I heard he was diagnosed with cancer, I tried again to reconnect, but he never responded.
Three days before he passed, I made a trip to his home and was able to tell him how much he meant to me. He stood inside the front door, and I stood on the front porch. He held up his hand and said, “It’s too late.” But I walked away that day feeling peaceful inside because I was able to tell him how I felt.
My sisters and I didn’t attend the funeral (we feared his widow would make a scene). We did, however, attend the Mass. I felt daggers aimed at me from his widow, but I wanted to pay my respects to the man I once knew and loved. I was relieved to know that he was free from cancer’s rage and no longer living the life of emotional pain he had chosen. I will always love him.
-- No Regrets
Dear No Regrets: Thank you for pointing out how powerful forgiveness can be.