Three years ago, our beautiful 22-year-old daughter was severely injured in an auto accident. "Shawna" was not expected to survive, but she did. After several months in a coma, and two years in a rehabilitation hospital, she is home with us. Shawna is a quadriplegic and dependent on a ventilator, but she is otherwise the same person she always was. My husband, our son and I have managed to create a life for her.
My concern is my husband's family. They have completely abandoned us since Shawna's accident. They say it is "too hard" for them to be around her and see her "like that," and have not been in contact with us for three years, even though they live less than an hour away. It makes me angry to see my husband and children treated so shabbily. My husband needs their support, and my children have lost their grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins.
I know I cannot change these people, but please tell others who experience this type of tragedy to support those in need. It means so much. It is not easy to explain to Shawna why these family members no longer care about her. She is still the same loving, caring young lady she once was -- only her body doesn't work anymore.
It is too late for our family to get back together, Ann, but maybe others will benefit from our sad experience and not estrange themselves from one another in times of need. You can use my name. They already know my feelings. I don't care if they see this in the paper.
-- Karen in Troy, Mich.
I am at a loss to find the words to express my sorrow at the way your husband's family has abandoned you. What a cold and heartless bunch they are. I do hope you have caring friends and neighbors who are giving you emotional support and that Shawna's friends are dropping by. Meanwhile, please know my thoughts and prayers are with you and your dear daughter -- and so are those of my millions of readers.
I promised no more "how we met" letters for four weeks. Well, the four weeks are up, so here's another one. The Boston area intelligentsia can skip it.
Everybody in Elko, Nev., knows how we met -- so this is for the rest of the world.
My brother and I and two female friends were in a nightclub in Butte, Mont. This was 1947. At the table right behind ours was a very pretty young girl and a good-looking sailor. I called the waitress over and asked if she knew who the pretty girl was. She replied, "I think her last name is the same as yours." I said, "That's great. She won't have to change her name when I marry her." The waitress looked at me like I was nuts.
A few minutes later, the young girl came over to our table, smiling. It seems the waitress had told her what I had said. She thought it was very funny, and wanted to check me out. Well, Ann, her name was NOT exactly the same as mine, but it was close. A few months later, we got married. Sept. 2 was our 51st wedding anniversary, and she is still the prettiest girl in town.
We have five children, seven grandkids and six great-grands. Oh! One more thing: A few weeks before we married, she told me, "I'm only 15," but that didn't faze me.
-- J.S.S., Elko, Nev.
Beautiful -- even though in some states, it is against the law to marry at 15. I assume she had her parents' permission, which means they must have approved of you. Thanks for a lovely story.
To find out more about Ann Landers and read her past columns, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
(C) 1999, Creators Syndicate Inc.