DEAR ABBY: I have four siblings. We get along fine as long as we’re apart.
During Mom’s and Dad’s funerals, I was dismayed at the degree of tension and bickering among us. I am now dealing with an incurable illness that will shorten my life considerably. I have no desire to put my husband through a funeral hosting a family who never liked him. I prefer to be cremated, and a handwritten letter be sent to each of my siblings after the fact.
Is this selfish? I don’t want people saying things they don’t sincerely mean. I didn’t have a happy childhood, and my siblings contributed to that. My letter will not be accusatory, nor will it rake up long-ago hurts. I just want them to know that my husband has carried out my wishes and they should not blame him for doing so. Any thoughts? — KEEPING IT SIMPLE
DEAR KEEPING IT SIMPLE: I don’t think your wishes are selfish. You’re entitled to exit the stage of life in the manner you choose. Because you prefer to bid your siblings goodbye in handwritten letters, go ahead and do it.
If I have any advice to offer it is that your husband should continue to maintain a healthy distance from your siblings after your death. You can’t prevent them from having whatever reaction they choose, considering the level of dysfunction in your family. It’s not unusual for survivors to react with anger after a death, and your husband should not take it personally if they do.
DEAR ABBY: My daughter rents a second-floor apartment with her two little girls. The tenant on the first floor is on oxygen and smokes cigarettes. I am concerned about the risk of an explosion that could injure my family upstairs.
My daughter would like to move, but her lease won’t be up until January. What should we do? I don’t believe she can afford a lawyer unless legal aid is available to her. I find the situation scary. — WORRIED IN OHIO
DEAR WORRIED: I find it scary, too. Has your daughter discussed this with the manager of the building? If she hasn’t, she should, and the conversation should be documented. An explosion could harm more neighbors than just her and her children. The smoker is a danger to everyone.
If the manager can’t compel the smoker to stop, then your daughter should move because, in a sense, the tenant downstairs is a ticking time bomb, and her children’s safety is paramount.
DEAR ABBY: My aunt “Stacey” has what they call salt-and-pepper-colored hair. We have suggested many times that she dye it, but she doesn’t want to have to keep up with it. Recently, someone asked her 14-year-old daughter if that was her grandmother! Aunt Stacey will be coming for a visit soon and we want to surprise her with a hair dye. How should we go about it? — KRISTY IN NEW JERSEY
DEAR KRISTY: Don’t do it, or the people who get surprised could be you and whoever else has concocted this hair-brained scheme. Not all women want to color their hair. Some would prefer to avoid the expense, and others become allergic to the hair dye. My advice is to appreciate your aunt for the person she is and forget about trying to change her image.