Dear Annie: I am writing to you because of a friend's problem. "Lena" is a divorced woman who lives with her 24-year-old son. Her ex's gambling problem destroyed the marriage. Her son was 10 years old at the time of his parents' divorce, and he was already unruly, uncontrollable and slacking off at school. Immediately after the divorce, the father remarried and does not keep in contact.
Lena decided to send her son to a prestigious school in her home country. She believed that her family, who lived there, could better take care of him and help him do well in school. She had to work overtime every single day to afford the tuition. He graduated as valedictorian and went to college in Australia. Again, Lena worked very hard to pay the full tuition.
When he was a junior, her son returned to the U.S. and said he was taking a break from college. After several months, he decided to "get a job" instead of returning to school. But a year has passed, and he hasn't earned a dime.
We recently learned from Lena that her son has been using drugs and physically assaulting her, saying that she ruined his childhood by sending him overseas. She asked him to consider a rehab facility, but he refuses. Lena now fears for her life. He has attacked her many times asking for money to buy drugs.
She is heartbroken about how her only child has turned out. I keep telling her to call the police, but she has begged me not to. She doesn't want to destroy his future by sending him to prison. What should we do? — A Reader
Dear Reader: If Lena cannot get her drug-addicted, abusive son out of her home and refuses to call the authorities, she should get out of there before he does permanent harm. Please call your local state domestic violence agency or the National Domestic Violence Hotline and ask how you can help. Also, please encourage Lena to contact Because I Love You, or Families Anonymous, support groups for parents in similar situations.
Dear Annie: I am a pastor and recently conducted a funeral at our church for a beloved member. In accordance with the family's wishes, a friend of the deceased was allowed to speak for a few minutes during the service. Unfortunately, the "friend" proceeded to tell inappropriate stories. After he'd spoken for quite some time, I asked him to allow others to talk, but he refused to yield. Finally, an angry family member asked him to sit down, but the damage had already been done.
May I offer three cardinal rules for speaking at a funeral?
1. Keep your remarks brief — less than seven minutes. Write and practice what you're going to say.
2. This is not a comedy club. Though you may share a funny story about the deceased, do not say anything that would humiliate that person or their family.
3. Do not brag about yourself. The service is not about you. — Grieving Pastor
Dear Pastor: Many folks, when confronted with the death of a loved one, say amazingly inappropriate things. Thank you for reminding them to think before speaking.
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.