Dear Annie: My brother lives 100 miles away from his job. He says he has a good job, but our family strongly suspects he is dealing drugs again. He has two children with an ex-girlfriend who is bipolar and not taking her medication.
The children had a weeklong break from school, and my brother left them with the ex-girlfriend's sister. She is a single mother with eight children of her own. She is also lazy and nasty. When I visited the kids, all the children came outside. One teenage child smelled strongly of marijuana. Another had crusting body sores all over. My niece told me there was dog poop on the boys' bedroom floor, and I could see clothes piled up to the windows.
My brother left his children in this same home a year ago, and when my family found out, we threatened to call Child Protective Services. He promised to get them out of that horrid environment and begged us to give him time. When I saw that the kids were back in that house and that nothing had changed, I called the police.
Afterward, my brother phoned, angry that I'd called the authorities before speaking to him. He said he'd inspected the house prior to sending the kids there and was assured it was being cleaned up. Annie, I don't believe him. He has a history of dealing and using drugs. He's a liar and a manipulator. Meanwhile, the police did nothing, and now my brother won't speak to me. Even my niece is angry.
I'm beginning to feel I did the wrong thing. How do I fix this? — Hurt in California
Dear Hurt: You did nothing wrong. Your brother cannot be trusted, and the mother of these children is not capable of caring for them. Everyone may be doing the best they can, but it is simply not adequate. Could you or someone in your family take these children into your home? Your brother might be relieved to know they are with a responsible caregiver. Or, if you still feel the children are in danger, report the conditions anonymously to Child Protective Services and ask them to investigate. If the situation warrants the children's removal from the home, they will handle it.
Dear Annie: Two years ago, some dear friends got married. We threw them an engagement party at our home and purchased a lovely gift for their wedding. We also offered the use of our home as a "staging area" for the wedding and reception. Due to a family emergency at the last minute, we were unable to attend the wedding.
We never received a thank-you note for our gift, not to mention our support. There wasn't even a verbal acknowledgement of our help. I'm offended, but I know there's no comfortable way to broach the subject. Any advice? — Ohio
Dear Ohio: Is it possible your friends sent you a thank-you note that was lost? Could the gift or card have been misplaced? Otherwise, we despair of such poor manners and lack of appreciation. Since this still bothers you, it may help repair the friendship if you speak up. Here are the words: "Did you ever receive the crystal bowl we sent for your wedding? We never heard from you and worry that it was lost in transit." We hope they use the opportunity to thank you profusely.
Dear Annie: "Road Worrier" should check to see whether her state has a Drivers Safety Division. Some have forms online to recommend that a particular driver be tested. Of course, valid reasons have to be stated. The driver in question is then summoned to take a driving test. I had to do this for my father. — Been Down hat Road
Dear Been: Concerned friends and relatives can look online or check their state DMV, local police or department of transportation to see whether such forms are available.
Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to [email protected], or write to: Annie's Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. To find out more about Annie's Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.