Dear Annie: My patience is running thin with my 92-year-old mother's rude and hurtful behavior. When I talk to her about it, she just laughs and brushes it off.
I wasn't around my mother through most of my marriage, but a few years ago, she moved in order to be closer to me. My husband and I are now retired, and I see to Mom's needs.
I don't know if she's been like this for years, if it's her age or if she has become bitter since my father died, but she is truly difficult to be around. If my husband and I take her out to dinner, she will complain that the food isn't as good as she could have made at home. If I bring her a home-cooked meal, she will tell me it was OK, but would have tasted better if I'd added this or that.
My brothers live out of state and, as a gift, had a ramp installed on her front porch, thinking this would make her life easier. She told me it was "nice," but believes they did it only to increase the home's value and not for her benefit. Yet, she uses it every day. Of course, I wouldn't tell this to my brothers, because I don't want them to be hurt.
Her friends and other family members think Mom is just great. And truthfully, she can be caring and generous, but she is so negative around me. What can I do? — Need Patience
Dear Patience: It is unlikely that you are going to change your mother at this stage of the game, so we urge you to find a way to ignore her chronic complaining, which, by the way, is not unusual between parents and children. We recommend you learn to sigh and say, "Yes, Mom." She isn't trying to hurt you. She simply wants to be important and the focus of your attention.
Dear Annie: Last week, I purchased a new wig because my hair is thinning. While trying it on, I complained that it didn't fit properly, but the salesperson convinced me it was fine, and stupidly, I bought it. Upon arriving home, I discovered it was a medium-size wig, not the petite size I require.
The wig is not refundable, so there's no point in returning it. I thought I might donate it instead. Could you provide me with the address of an agency that would want my synthetic wig? It has never been worn. I'm hoping to pass it on to someone who could use it and would feel lovely wearing it. — H.
Dear H.: Call the American Cancer Society at 1-800-227-2345. They are delighted to accept new and gently used wigs, which are then given to cancer patients free of charge. Someone there will tell you where you can donate your wig locally. Thank you so much for asking.
Dear Annie: I'd like to offer suggestions for "Son of a Portly Pop." There may be other avenues the family could explore regarding Dad's current inactivity.
One might be to hire a personal trainer to find a level of exercise he is capable of doing. Even a little upper body movement could be a beginning. Often, someone from outside the family can have more influence.
Also, the family might consult with Portly Pop's doctor to see how they could best assist him, including working on meal preparation, exercise, therapy, whatever. — No Stone Left Unturned in Boston
Dear Boston: It's definitely worth a try, but keep in mind, Pop must be willing to make the necessary changes.
Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to anniesmailboxcomcast.net, or write to: Annie's Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 5777 W. Century Blvd., Ste. 700, Los Angeles, CA 90045.