Dear Annie: My 16-year-old son, "Freddie," has always kept to himself. We see Freddie's uncle about once a year, and I only recently discovered that this same uncle molested Freddie when the boy was 7 years old. I had no clue. When Freddie was 11, I spoke with him about inappropriate touching, but he never told me about his uncle.
I've always been protective of Freddie and thought we were fine, until an aunt confronted Freddie, saying he had inappropriately touched my adult niece a few months ago. What do I do about this? — Mom's Heartache
Dear Mom: Sexually abused children can become sexual abusers if the original abuse was not properly dealt with. Your niece is an adult and more capable of protecting herself from a 16-year-old's inappropriate touching than a child would be. But it indicates that Freddie may still need help. Please contact RAINN for information and referrals.
Dear Annie: A couple of times a week, I get a phone call from someone who knows my bedridden 92-year-old mother. They tell me what a wonderful person she is and to keep them "updated," meaning, I suppose, to tell them when she dies. Here is what I want to say to the caller:
Taking care of an elderly parent at home is exhausting and a tremendous amount of work. The time to pitch in is now. Here is a list of things you can do:
1. If you live close by, offer to spend an afternoon with Mom or send over a meal. Mow the lawn or shovel the driveway. Offer to drive her to the hospital or to a doctor's appointment the next time she needs to go, and then do it.
2. If you have old items you're not using (e.g., a toilet or shower chair, a walker or wheelchair, a small table on wheels, a sturdy cafeteria tray or a magnifying glass for reading), ask whether we'd like them.
3. Consider asking whether you can get her medical supplies that insurance doesn't cover. We need grab bars in the bathroom, waterproof pads for her bed, a box of plastic gloves, even a pack of clean cotton washcloths and scouring powder.
4. Offer to make calls to find me a good nurse's aide.
If you want to spend your last days at home, start adapting your place now. Don't be like my mother, who did nothing and then came home from the hospital suddenly debilitated. Her children had to make all the necessary changes under time pressure and at our own expense, while listening to Mom complain that she wanted everything "back the way it was." Write a living will and a Do Not Resuscitate order, and keep it where others can find it.
Yes, my mother is a dear, intelligent and wise person. But the reality of dying at home involves much hard work that is usually left to one of the children, who takes it on alone and without experience. — Exhausted in the Midwest
Dear Exhausted: You have made some very pointed suggestions that a great many people will think are too much trouble, but that only underscores how much work you do alone. Please look into respite care for yourself through the Eldercare Locator, the National Respite Network and Resource Center and the Family Caregiver Alliance.
Dear Annie: Fuming in Washington said her granddaughter is too busy to say thanks. It reminds me of a Calvin and Hobbes comic strip. Calvin is writing a thank-you note to Grandma for sending a box of crayons. Hobbes comments on the quickness of the note, and Calvin replies, "Yeah, I always write her a thank-you note right away, ever since she sent me that empty box with the sarcastic note saying she was just checking to see if the postal service was still working." — Y.
This Classic Annie's Mailbox column was originally published in 2015. To find out more about Classic Annie's Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit Creators Syndicate at www.creators.com.