This is a hard letter for me to write. My husband and I are in our seventies and have raised two children who are a disgrace. We waited until we were over 30 to marry because each of us was taking care of an elderly parent. We were thrilled to have children and tried to follow all the rules so we could set a good example. Our children were raised with love, religion, family values and discipline. We lived in a nice home in a fine neighborhood, and they attended excellent schools.
We have searched our hearts to understand why they turned out the way they did. They were never neglected, always supported, and given the best we could afford -- and many things we couldn't. Their opportunities were many, but they always chose the wrong path with the wrong people.
Now we are faced with an unusual problem and need your advice. My husband and I received an unexpected, sizable inheritance. Our children are not aware of this. We do not want them to have it when we die. We have no other relatives, and our friends are as old as we are. We are considering our church and perhaps the Salvation Army.
We have made a list of people mentioned in our local newspaper who have done good deeds with no expectation of being rewarded, and think perhaps we might give some money to them. We would like to feel we have really made a big difference in someone's life.
Our attorney wants to meet us soon to draw up our wills. We are not in the best of health. Please answer soon.
-- Disappointed Parents, No Name, No State
I can't imagine what your children did to justify total estrangement, but that's not what you wrote about, so I'll stick to the business at hand.
The good causes you mentioned are excellent places to put your money. I have been a strong supporter of the Salvation Army for years, and know how much your help would be appreciated. I also recommend the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago and the Hereditary Disease Foundation in Santa Monica, Calif. Your attorney and tax consultant can advise you as to the best way to give your money away and help prevent your will from being contested by your children.
The most hilarious column you ever wrote helped me turn the corner when I was seriously ill several years ago. My copy is torn, but I'll try to patch it up and send it on. Please run it again.
-- A St. Petersburg, Fla., Fan.
Here it is:
A couple sitting on their back porch, enjoying a lovely summer evening, were startled by bloodcurdling screams for help coming from their neighbors' home.
After dialing 911 and arming themselves with a baseball bat, the couple proceeded to their neighbors' house to assist in any way they could. As luck would have it, the front door was unlocked, so they walked right in. They followed the frantic calls for help to an upstairs bedroom, where they found the neighbor lady stark-naked, tied hand and foot to her bed. On the floor lay her husband, unconscious, wearing a Batman cape and mask.
It became apparent that the couple was into both bondage and fantasies. Mr. Batman had attempted to leap from the dresser onto the bed. In the process, he bumped his head on the ceiling fan and went out like a light.
The next-door couple untied Mrs. Batman, revived Mr. Batman, and took him to the hospital where he was treated for a superficial head injury and released. This certainly gives new meaning to the term "safe sex."