Dear Ann: I am a 44-year-old single woman. My mother passed away three weeks ago and named me the legal guardian for my disabled 39-year-old sister, "Susie," who has Down syndrome. (My father died many years ago.)
I feel honored that my mother trusted me enough to do this. Susie lives at a residence for disabled adults not far from my home. It was my mother's wish that Susie remain there. It is a wonderful residence, and Susie has a life full of social activities and work opportunities.
I have three brothers and two sisters, all living within two hours of Susie's home. The residence strongly recommends family outings, and my mother used to pick up Susie on the weekends and bring her home for a couple of days. We all tried to see her and called often. Since my mother's death, however, it seems some of my siblings are complaining that it is too time-consuming to take care of Susie on the weekends or drive to the residence and visit with her.
I cannot spend every weekend with Susie because of my job, and I am upset that my siblings are not doing their share. I love Susie, but I cannot handle caring for her by myself. When I agreed to become her guardian, I expected help from my brothers and sisters and was disappointed when it was not forthcoming.
I do not want to nag my siblings about taking Susie, nor do I want to be a martyr and suffer in silence. Since this is a new responsibility for me, I am eager to do it correctly from the start. What do you suggest? Another Anne from Chicago
Dear Anne: You are the designated "saint" or "victim" in the family, whichever way you decide to view it. There is little you can say or do to change the way your siblings choose to honor or ignore their obligation to your sister. Just be grateful Susie is in a place that takes good care of her and that she is happy there. Spend as much time with her as you can manage, and periodically remind your siblings that Susie misses them and would like them to visit.
You have a right to feel good about the way you are conducting your life, and as for your siblings what goes around, comes around.
Dear Ann: This is in response to "Baby Sitter's Mom in Florida," whose daughter was sent an IRS Form 1099 for her baby-sitting services to a family with three small children. Her employer claimed she worked as an independent contractor for his clothing company, and the girl ended up owing $146 in self-employment taxes. It never ceases to amaze me how some people are willing to take such risks to save a buck.
Her employers are tax cheats. The girl should inform the IRS that the 1099 was issued in error because she never did work for their clothing company. When her employer fails to convince the IRS of the legitimacy of the deduction, undoubtedly all his other tax reports will be scrutinized until the day he dies. I'm sure he will wind up with some penalties. By then, he will wish he had paid the baby sitter's $146 in self-employment taxes. I hope others who may consider such gimmicks will learn something from this letter. Disgusted in Boonton, N.J.
Dear Boonton: Some people are penny-wise and pound-foolish. Your letter should be an eye-opener for all who may consider playing games with the IRS. Once they get on your case, it never ends and I mean never.
Gem of the Day (credit the Prairie Rambler): Education is so involved with computers these days, I wonder who is going to teach students to work with their brains.