Dear Annie: Two years ago, my sister called crying that they were going to lose their house. She didn't realize her husband hadn't been making the mortgage payments. She said she wouldn't have taken all those vacations or eaten out in fancy restaurants if she had known they couldn't afford it.
Of course I jumped in to help. My husband spent a day making sure all the money was transferred into the right accounts in time to stop the bank auction. This was a loan, not a gift, but without interest charges.
Now I feel betrayed. My sister and her husband continue to spend money frivolously. They took a big vacation and lied to me so I wouldn't know. They've been eating out again. They promise to make payments, but rarely do. Any amount is overdue and in tiny increments. Now they've stopped inviting us to get-togethers.
Is this any way to treat the people who kept you from being thrown out on the street? We have never hounded them for the money, but I know now this was a big mistake. We must have had "sucker" written on our foreheads.
I am extremely hurt that my sister would do this to me. It's not even the money anymore. It's being lied to repeatedly by someone I loved and trusted. An apology might help, but I don't see it happening. What do I do? — Extremely Disappointed
Dear Disappointed: If your sister knew how to be more frugal, she wouldn't have needed your loan. Her lies and avoidance are how she deals with her guilt. We suggest you remove all vagueness about this. Have a lawyer draw up papers with the amount loaned, the amount repaid and a schedule of monthly payments. Insist that all of you sign it, and then remind her when she's late with a payment. Be nice, but firm. She won't like it, but once the loan is repaid, you can start with a clean slate.
Dear Annie: My dad constantly calls me at work to ask when I'm going to come over to see Mom and my adult sister who still lives at home. But when I do make the time to visit, he can't be bothered to talk to my husband, my kids or me, and my sister doesn't bother to come up from the basement.
This has been going on for the past 20 years. I no longer feel welcome there. My dad is retired, but can't find a moment to stop by my place or even ask how his grandchildren are. But he somehow manages to visit my brother's kids. I've called him on this, and he says he's not well enough to come to my place, but every day he stops by the donut shop that's two minutes from my home.
I've never asked them for anything and don't expect anything. However, my brother's children are the apples of their eyes. Why does he keep asking me to visit when he doesn't want to see me? — Can't Be Bothered and Don't Care
Dear Can't: Where is Mom in all this? It sounds as though Dad wants to see you, but has no idea how to relate to you. If you know when he is at the donut shop, feel free to stop by. And if you are willing to put in the effort, family counseling might help all of you communicate better.
Dear Annie: I was sympathetic to Trying My Best, the guest who is allergic to cats. We, too, have a relative who cannot visit our home due to his severe allergies to our cats and a dear friend who can visit for a meal, but cannot tolerate longer periods of time in our home.
We follow the procedures outlined in this letter when our friend visits, and we host our relative at a restaurant. But other guests don't seem to understand that the cats aren't temporary visitors. This is their home, and they are part of our family. And in some cases we like the cats a lot more than we like the guests. — Jim
This Classic Annie's Mailbox column was originally published in 2014. 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.