Dear Annie: I recently discovered that the man I called Dad all my life was not my biological father, after he passed away last year. "Jack" always treated me the same as his other children, with kindness and love. I will always think of him as my father and have no desire to know who my biological father is.
He loved my children, and they were extremely lucky to have him in their lives. I am not sure whether I should tell them the truth, because he was such a wonderful part of their lives.
Seeing as he kept the truth from me, I don't think he wanted anyone to know. -- Grateful for Him
Dear Grateful for Him: You're probably right that he didn't want anyone to know, but he sounds like such a supportive parent that I'm sure he would want you to make whatever decision is right for your family. So if you end up telling your children, don't feel guilty. At the end of the day, the fact remains that Jack was their real grandpa in every way that counts.
Too many questions
Dear Annie: I am a very private person, but I have a family member who asks too many questions (of everyone) all the time -- silly questions, personal questions, medical questions, etc.
I have spoken to her privately about this -- telling her that I am not comfortable with the constant questions -- multiple times. However, she will not stop. She says it doesn't bother her. I have tried to change the subject when she gets into a line of questioning; she brings it back.
It has gotten so that I try to avoid being around her. However, this is impossible at times.
How do I stop the invasion? -- DC
Dear DC: You've told her that this behavior makes you uncomfortable, and she responded by saying it "doesn't bother" her? Either this woman is hard of hearing or she has a mental illness that causes compulsive talking. You might want to talk to some other relatives regarding the latter concern.
And the next time she starts the game of 2,100 questions, be extremely direct. Just say: "Stop." If she won't, excuse yourself and walk away. It's nice when relatives take an interest in our lives, but an interrogation is no conversation.
Counseling not enough
Dear Annie: "Stressed Out in Middle America" wrote to you about her friend "Jenna," a hoarder. You told "Stressed Out" to encourage Jenna to see a mental health specialist. Well, I know from experience that trying to tell a hoarder to see a counselor does no good. My son and his wife are hoarders. They refuse to even believe that anything is wrong with them. It is everyone else who has a problem, not them; they are just fine. They have not cleaned certain rooms in 20 years. They just keep piling up stuff and collecting more. We used to go clean the home every six months. However, we are elderly now and are unable to do it. It did no good anyway. As soon as we would clean, it would pile up in a week all over again. It is so very sad that their children have to live like that. I wish we could have gotten custody of our grandchildren when they were born, as their mother does not even care for them (she only cares about herself and her junk), but our son does care for them. The whole situation is very sad. -- Hard to Watch
Dear Hard to Watch: Seeing as your son does care for the children, you could tell him that you think the situation is so serious that if he doesn't seek counseling, you will have no choice but to call the authorities. The children could be in danger. Contact their local government to see what agencies, such as Child Protective Services or Adult Protective Services, could intervene.