Dear Annie: I belong to a large group of friends across several states who get together often to camp and ride motorcycles. Recently, one couple in our group had a terrible accident. The husband was killed and the wife suffered brain damage. "Jane" does not remember the accident and only recalls her husband because she has been told about him. She is not capable of making any major decisions.
Here's the real tragedy: Jane has two children. Her 21-year-old son is now responsible for all of the decisions, and he is overwhelmed. Fortunately, he seems to be adjusting. We can't say the same for his 17-year-old sister, "Astrid." Her world has fallen apart.
Right now, the entire show is being run by Jane's mother-in-law, who never got along with Jane. She plans to sell Jane's house and move Astrid in with her. She recently took away Astrid's phone and car as a punishment for not doing her chores, leaving her unable to visit her mother or stay in touch with us. No one in the family seems able to stand up to this woman. We have no legal standing and are frustrated watching this runaway freight train.
Jane's family has asked for our advice, but all we can tell them is to get a lawyer and they don't have the funds for that. I know both sides of the family are grieving, but this is just a mess. Please help. -- Harley Momma from Texas
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Dear Texas: This is such a tough time for everyone. Try to keep in mind that, although Jane and her mother-in-law are not close, it doesn't mean Mom is mistreating her granddaughter. You are getting only one side of the story. Also, while your advice to find an attorney is good, the family should clarify what for. Does someone want custody of Astrid? Is the grandmother keeping Astrid from seeing her other relatives? If so, perhaps the entire family can pool their resources or look into Legal Aid.
In the meantime, please do your best to stay close to Astrid, not only through social media and phone calls, but also by befriending her grandmother. She lost her son and now has responsibility for her granddaughter. It would be a kindness for you to offer assistance, and it also will be supportive of Astrid.
Dear Annie: This is about "Not a Creepy Guy," whose soon-to-be daughter-in-law thinks he's creepy, for no particular reason.
My 30-year-old daughter, with whom I have a wonderful relationship, has told me that young women think men in their 50s are creepy just because of their age and gender -- no matter how gentlemanly or polite they may be. She says now that I am entering my 60s, I am leaving behind the "creepy middle-aged" guy demographic and will enter the "kindly grandfather" stage. I am looking forward to it.
Hopefully, this daughter-in-law is looking at a stereotype and has no particular concern. But he is right to talk about it with her. -- Too Old to Be Creepy
Dear Too Old: We have never noticed this particular stereotype and think it is odd and potentially damaging. But thanks for mentioning it. We hope the new daughter-in-law will grow up before Dad is too old to care.
Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to anniesmailboxcreators.com or write to Annie's Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. You can also find Annie on Facebook at Facebook.com/AskAnnies.
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