Dear Annie: My 20-year-old nephew has been a troubled youth, despite all the attempts of his family to help him, including counseling and rehab. When he was 18, he became involved with a messed-up 14-year-old girl who used drugs, alcohol and sex to get her way.
A year ago, my nephew's family moved out of state, but last fall he reconnected with the old girlfriend via Facebook. The girl's father bought my nephew a plane ticket to come visit. She is now a spoiled 17-year-old dropout who refuses to get a job. Worse yet, while visiting, my nephew also reconnected with all their former drug-using "friends."
My nephew is now back with his family, but the girl constantly texts and calls. It seems she is planning to run away and join him. His family is furious. They hadn't known about the plane ticket and never wanted him involved with this girl. They are trying to get him back into rehab, but he refuses to do anything to help himself. Any ideas? — Florida
Dear Florida: It is terribly sad when a child is so self-destructive that you can only sit and watch. But your nephew is a legal adult, and there isn't much the family can do to change his behavior. Please urge them to contact Families Anonymous (familiesanonymous.org) and Because I Love You (bily.org) for help, suggestions and emotional support.
Dear Annie: Several years ago, you printed an essay about a dog who had lived a long life and had become old and sickly and wanted his master to do him a favor and let him die. It was written from the dog's viewpoint, and I think of it often. Would it be possible to rerun it? — Rockford, Ill.
Dear Rockford: Thank you for asking. We last printed this in 2007, and several readers have requested it since then. Here it is:
A Dog's Plea by Beth Norman Harris
Treat me kindly, my beloved friend, for no heart in all the world is more grateful for kindness than the loving heart of me.
Do not break my spirit with a stick, for though I might lick your hand between blows, your patience and understanding will more quickly teach me the things you would have me learn.
Speak to me often, for your voice is the world's sweetest music, as you must know by the fierce wagging of my tail when the sound of your footstep falls upon my waiting ear.
Please take me inside when it is cold and wet, for I am a domesticated animal, no longer accustomed to bitter elements. I ask no greater glory than the privilege of sitting at your feet beside the hearth.
Keep my pan filled with fresh water, for I cannot tell you when I suffer thirst.
Feed me clean food that I might stay well, to romp and play and do your bidding, to walk by your side and stand ready, willing and able to protect you with my life, should your life be in danger.
And, my friend, when I am very old, and I no longer enjoy good health, hearing and sight, do not make heroic efforts to keep me going. I am not having any fun.
Please see that my trusting life is taken gently. I shall leave this Earth knowing with the last breath I draw that my fate was always safest in your hands.
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.