Dear Ann: My husband recently passed away. I took care of him for seven years until his death and had very little help from anyone. I am selling our home to pay off our debts and will be left with $306 a month thanks to Social Security.
My daughter, who is extremely wealthy, has helped me out during emergencies, but, I should add, begrudgingly. I do not have a job, and have had no training to do anything except be a housewife and mother. I asked my daughter if she would send me a check every month to help make ends meet, and now, our relationship is strained. She owns a $3 million home in California and has a profitable business. I made many sacrifices so she would have a good education and a successful life.
My question: Is my daughter obligated by law to help me with my living expenses? The last thing I want is a lawsuit, but it may be my only recourse. She no longer returns my phone calls. A Heartbroken Mother in Texas
Dear Texas Mother: I have heard only your side of the story, and it is a sad one. What I need to know is why you have such a poor relationship with your daughter. What happened that has made her so unwilling to do what most daughters would do in a heartbeat to help a mother in need?
In some states, children have a legal obligation to help support indigent parents. You should consult a lawyer. If you cannot afford one, contact any law school legal clinic, National Legal Aid or your state bar association. I wish you well.
Dear Ann: I grew up in a working-class family, but thanks to my parents' support, I will soon graduate from an Ivy League college on a full scholarship. In order to pay my living expenses, I am waiting tables at a campus restaurant. The pay is not great, but I get by.
I am proud of how far I've come, but other people don't see it that way. I am engaged to a great guy. When his company has social events, "Neal" expects me to attend. His co-workers know I am a waitress and are less-than-kind about it. I've overheard them make snide remarks about my job while they brag about how much their shoes cost, how beautiful their new summer homes are, and so on.
I will never fit in with these snobs and have told Neal how I feel. I no longer want to attend those parties, but Neal insists that if I don't, I will embarrass him and hurt his career. We have agreed to abide by your decision, Ann. Should I plaster a smile on my face and go for his sake, or should I stay home? Wrong Side of the Tracks in New York
Dear N.Y.: Either you are paranoid, or Neal needs a better class of friends. Attending an Ivy League college on a full scholarship certainly puts you a notch above the snobs. Hold your head up and ignore the snide comments. Accept Neal's invitations, and show them what real class is.
Dear Ann: Now I really know we are in the 21st century. This morning, I read an obituary in our local newspaper. At the end, it said, "Condolences may be sent to the family via e-mail at email@example.com." What do you think of this? Wondering in Lynchburg, Va.
Dear Va.: In my opinion, this is tacky, no matter what the century. Even though we are living in the dot-com era, certain niceties should be preserved. Condolence messages should be handwritten (or typed, if your handwriting is illegible) and sent via the postal service. However, I will concede that e-mail is better than no mail at all.