Editor's Note: Hundreds of Ann Landers' loyal readers have requested that newspapers continue to publish her columns. These letters originally appeared in 1999.
Dear Ann Landers: I recently read the letter from the daughter whose mother was lonely, bitter and dependent on her for a social life. You said Mom needed some extracurricular activities. May I make a few suggestions?
I am a 79-year-old widow with the physical disabilities that often come with age. A year ago, my children gave me an old computer. It wasn't too hard to learn, though I confess it was frustrating at first. Every Sunday evening, our family gets together in a chat room so I can talk to my children, their spouses and my grandchildren, no matter where we are. I've learned to surf the 'Net and can send electronic musical greeting cards to nieces and nephews. They also send me interesting and funny things to let me know they are thinking of me. I am having so much fun, there is no time to be lonely.
If that mother doesn't want a computer, she may be interested in tracing her family genealogy and collecting family photographs. Last Christmas, I sent my children an album of their childhood pictures, awards and report cards. They said it was their favorite gift.
Being alone can be depressing, if you let it. I keep my aches and pains to myself and never criticize. I just listen, smile and pray a lot. — Cyber Grandma
Dear Cyber Gram: You sound like my kind of woman: No leaning on others to entertain you; you entertain yourself. Your closing mantra is a pearl of wisdom. Four cheers, lady!
Dear Ann Landers: When my sister remarried two years ago, her new husband did not want to raise her son from a previous marriage. In those two years, the boy lived with an aunt, a grandmother and an uncle. Now, he is living with me, and I plan to keep him. He is a wonderful, adorable child, and I love him.
The problem is, his mother gets government benefits for this boy. She won't give up the welfare check and refuses to give me some of the money to compensate for raising him. She also claims him as a deduction on her income taxes, yet she is not supporting him at all.
Should I just forget about the money and consider the boy my own, or should I try to convince my sister to take care of him? Your advice would be greatly appreciated. — Ticked Off in Texas
Dear Ticked: You say your sister's son is "a wonderful, adorable child" and you love him. His own mother doesn't want him, and you don't know what to do? Forget about his mother's chiseling on the welfare checks. Keep the boy, and consider him a blessing in your life. And please be aware that you are a blessing in that child's life, as well. If he doesn't know it now, he will later.
Dear Ann Landers: My father recently passed away. He was 95. Right up to the end, his mind was active, and he was alert and aware.
My sister and I were at his bedside, along with my father's wife. For several days, my stepmother insisted on whispering into Dad's ear that it was OK to die, OK to let go. She urged him "to follow the light." To me, it sounded like she was telling him to give up and get it over with. I found this offensive and disturbing. When I told her how I felt, she insisted she only wanted to make things easier for Dad. What do you say? — Bob in New York
Dear N.Y.: At 95, I doubt that anything she said to your father would have made much difference one way or the other. It sounds to me as if the real problem is an undercurrent of hostility between you and your stepmother. Give it up, and let your father rest in peace.
An alcohol problem? How can you help yourself or someone you love? "Alcoholism: How To Recognize It, How To Deal With It, How To Conquer It" will give you the answers. To find out more about Ann Landers and read her past columns, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.