Dear Ann: I have enjoyed your column since I was in high school, and now I'm a grandmother of three. It's time for me to "give something back." I hope you will print my letter.
Tell your readers that when they are hospitalized, they should leave their jewelry at home. I had minor surgery a few days ago, which required an overnight stay in one of Boston's finest hospitals. I placed my gold earrings and pearl necklace in the drawer of the nightstand. When I returned from surgery, the earrings and necklace were gone.
I reported the loss to the head nurse at once. She said, "Sorry, but we cannot be responsible for such losses. We tell our patients to leave their jewelry at home, but when they don't listen, there's nothing we can do." Please, Ann, if you've told them before, do so again. Boston Reader
Dear Boston: Thanks for your letter. The same advice holds true for those who go to the hospital for mammograms or other procedures. I'm putting the message in all capital letters to make sure nobody misses it: WHEN YOU GO TO THE HOSPITAL, LEAVE YOUR JEWELRY AT HOME.
Dear Ann: My husband, "Bill," and I divorced 12 years ago, after 25 years of marriage. We made a pledge to each other that we would set aside our differences and always do what was best for our children. We have kept that pledge.
Bill was more than fair with his money and extremely generous with his time. He helped me guide our three teen-agers into adulthood. All three children love and respect us. Over the years, we have both dated but never remarried.
Three months ago, I learned I am terminally ill. Bill continues to stand by me, and I know he will until the end. When the time comes, I want Bill to be listed as "a special friend" in my obituary not necessarily as a husband or even an ex-husband. Some family members say it would be inappropriate. I'm sure our children would not object. What do you think? Just Asking in Tennessee
Dear Tennessee: This must be a terribly difficult time for you. By all means, name Bill in your obituary as "former husband and special friend." He is both. As for those family members who feel it would be inappropriate, ignore them. Their opinions don't count, and they should butt out.
Dear Ann: Thank you for printing the letter from "Cindy in Wisconsin," who wanted to stay friendly with her ex-stepmother's family. You were absolutely right to tell her she should keep in touch if she wants to.
Both my parents have been married three times, and I have had a series of revolving-door siblings, aunts, uncles and grandparents. Every time someone remarries, I am expected to welcome the new relatives with open arms. Whenever someone divorces, I am expected to disown my stepsiblings and act as if they never existed. It is painful to ignore people who treated you as a close relative for years.
I decided early on that just because my parents couldn't get their lives straight didn't mean mine should be torn to pieces. I have excellent relationships with my ex-step-siblings, ex-step-grandparents and other family members. Children should not be expected to turn their feelings on and off whenever an adult relationship sours. No one can tell me who to love. Red-Headed Stepchild in Kentucky
Dear Red-Head: You're my poster child for good sense. Personal relationships should be based on what transpires between the individuals involved. Grudges should never be "inherited."