Dear Annie: My heart is breaking for my sister. She has been married to the same man for more than 30 years and he has never been kind or respectful toward her. They have two married sons and a grandchild with health problems. My sister loves that grandchild more than life itself, but she rarely gets to see him. Worse, her sons treat her terribly and I have no idea why. The younger son takes advantage of her, and the oldest acts as though his parents are beneath him.
I have several siblings and although none of us is perfect, we have all tried our best to be good parents. My sister has recently developed medical problems, but she is so depressed about her life that she doesn't care about her own health.
I am worried about her. She deserves love and respect and has sacrificed herself for the men in her life. Should I write a letter to my nephews and open their eyes? — Big Sister
Dear Sister: If your brother-in-law has treated his wife disrespectfully their entire married life and she has tolerated it, then her sons will treat her similarly. That is the pattern they grew up with and they see nothing wrong with it. Your sister needs to assert herself and demand more acceptable behavior, but we suspect she doesn't know how.
If you want to write letters to your nephews, by all means do so, but be aware that it might not help and could estrange them from you. Can you enlist the help of your nephew's wives? Men who treat their mothers disrespectfully often repeat the pattern with their wives. We also hope you will offer to go with your sister for counseling, not only so she can learn to stop putting up with such disrespect, but to help her move forward and take control of her life and her health.
Dear Annie: Eleven years ago, when my father passed away, the funeral home gave my mother an American flag, since Dad was a veteran of WWII. As per his wishes, there was no funeral and my father was cremated. This flag was never used and my mother put it away in a closet. Now my mother is in a nursing facility and I have the flag.
Annie, we already have a smaller flag that hangs by our front door. Dad's flag has no sentimental value for me, but I have no idea who I can pass it on to or what else can be done with it. I can't just throw it away. Do you have any suggestions? — Daughter of a Vet in Poughkeepsie, N.Y.
Dear Daughter: Are there nieces, nephews or grandchildren who might like to have this flag? Please ask around. Here are some other ideas: Contact your local historical society to see whether they will accept this item, perhaps along with your father's other war memorabilia if there is any. Also offer it to nearby schools, the Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts, your local fire department and the VFW to see whether they are interested. Finally, please contact the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs (cem.va.gov) to donate the flag for use in the National Cemetery.
Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of 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.