Of Blood and Turnips
Dear Margo: My mom and I aren’t overly close, but we talk about once a month. She has run out of money, having retired three years after quitting a part-time job, and says she doesn’t want to work anymore, that she has “worked long enough.” She has a small pension and Social Security, and I suggested she apply for food stamps, which she receives.
Mom has asked me to give her $100 a month, and my brother will match whatever I agree to pay her. I told her I would help out when possible, but I couldn’t agree to a monthly payment. We are a middle-income family of four. One child is a college sophomore; the other, a junior in high school soon to be in college. The money I make goes to their schooling and some of our bills.
My brother has two houses in two different states, owns several buildings and exotic cars, and has just a dog, no kids. I do not have the financial means he does. Now my brother is calling my husband at work and trying to talk to him about it. He won’t call me because the last time this issue came up, I told him I would talk directly to Mom because he tries to tell me what to do and that we “owe” it to her. What can I say to them without feeling guilty? — In a Quandary
Dear In: In tough situations where you feel you are not being heard, I recommend writing a letter. In your case, write one letter to your brother, with a copy going to your mother. You will have gone on record, the letter can be reread, no one can interrupt, and it short-circuits any efforts to talk about it.
The gist of the letter should be who can afford what. When you state that you simply don’t have the money to give your mother a set allowance per month, no one can tell you that you do. You might gently point out to your brother that, from all outward appearances, he is the better able to kick in an extra $100 a month. If he chooses not to, that’s his business. As for “owing” people, at this period in your life, the people you owe are your husband and two sons. — Margo, guiltlessly
Henny Penny All the Time
Dear Margo: “Selma” and I have been friends since college. Now we are in our 40s. She was always a drama queen in school, but I assumed it would taper off and tone down. It hasn’t. I find it increasingly wearing to have the most minor events turned into a dramatic monologue or a soap opera. Is there any approach I could take that would calm down some of these one-act plays? I mean, if her cleaning lady doesn’t show up, it is woe-is-me for 10 minutes. — Annoyed
Dear Ann: I am sorry that your friend is Moliere than thou. It sounds as though the dramatic instinct is just woven into her personality. This suggests a lack of balance, perspective and maturity, but there you are. Something has kept you girls friends for 20-plus years, though, so I would try to jolly her out of the next recitative by responding humorously. You might try, “You’re kidding, right?” or remark that her crisis of the moment is certainly on a par with Chernobyl (or the calamity of your choice). I don’t see anything wrong with letting her know you find her overreactions a little odd. — Margo, realistically
* * *
Dear Margo is written by Margo Howard, Ann Landers’ daughter. All letters must be sent via the online form at www.creators.com/dear-margo.html. Due to a high volume of e-mail, not all letters will be answered.
COPYRIGHT 2012 MARGO HOWARD
DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM
Every Thursday and Friday, you can find “Dear Margo” and her latest words of wisdom on wowOwow