Dear Annie: My 60-year-old niece, "Louise," is being married for the first time. She lives out of state, and the whole shebang is being planned as if she were some 20-year-old blushing bride.

Louise always has been a loner. She's industrious and proper but not particularly close to her family, although she's on good terms with them. However, I am disenchanted with the sparse attention she pays to her aged mother (my sister), who lives in the same town. Louise never goes out of her way for any of us. I have never seen the inside of her home, and she hasn't been in mine for many years, although when I visited her mother a while back, Louise did drive across town to spend a few minutes with me.

I feel friendly toward Louise but not overly obligated. However, the entire clan expects me to attend the nuptials. I am in my 70s, divorced and in excellent health. However, I don't like the idea of a six-hour drive all by myself, and I hate large airports. There is no direct flight to the town where she will be married, and even if I were willing to fly there, I'd still have to rent a car and drive for a while.

Common sense tells me that a civil ceremony with a handful of people would have been more appropriate, but it's not my call to make. I don't want to offend anyone, but do you think sending a gift and card would suffice? —Aging Uncle

Dear Uncle: While we think getting married for the first time at the age of 60 is a reason to celebrate, we understand why you don't want to make the trip. Is there anyone from your area who might be willing to travel with you? Are there family members you'd like to see who would be in attendance? If you can't find a reason that makes the trip worthwhile, sending a gift and card is perfectly fine.

Dear Annie: I am a veteran of two services. I served in the U.S. Army, saw combat, and when the Army discharged me in early '44, I got to thinking about all my friends still in the fight, so I decided to help them. I became a merchant seaman carrying the goods and supplies required by our troops.

To get to my problem, I see mentions of the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force and even the Coast Guard. Never do I see merchant marines mentioned in any columns, not even yours. I think it is high time we paid some respect to the 9,500 mariners who gave up their lives so that our troops could have the materiel they needed to fight. —Proud Merchant Seaman in Sun City, Calif.

Dear Merchant Seaman: The merchant marine delivers military supplies to our forces overseas, and our armed services could not manage without them. In World War II, mariners suffered the highest percentage of casualties of all five branches of the armed services. We owe them a great deal.

Dear Annie: As president of the Well Spouse Association, I would like to respond to the letter from the 53-year-old man whose spouse had a stroke and is now totally paralyzed and in a nursing home. You referred readers to our organization.

The Well Spouse Association is a nonprofit group for the support of people married to, or partners of, persons with chronic illness and/or disability. Our motto is, "When one is sick, two need help." My heart goes out to the gentleman who wrote in.

I would like to add that we do not act as a matchmaking service. I invite him and other well spouses to join the WSA and find people who are living through similar circumstances, and who will listen. —Richard Anderson, president, WSA

Dear Richard Anderson: Thank you for clarifying that. Again, those who are interested can contact the Well Spouse Association at or call 1-800-838-0879.

Happy Passover to all our Jewish readers.

Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to, or write to: Annie's Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611.

© Creators Syndicate Inc.