Your advice to "Just My Opinion Out East" was all wet. "Out East" said her sister, Clarice, was taking care of her grandmother's affairs. Consequently, there would be no more birthday cards or checks for the children from Grandma. You said, "I think it's a shame your sister is taking advantage of Grandma's old age, and ignoring what were surely Grandma's wishes." You went on to suggest that "Out East" send pre-addressed, stamped birthday cards that Clarice could just drop in the mail at the appropriate time.
You missed the point. "Out East" wasn't interested in a birthday card from Grandma. She wanted the check. I can only imagine how happy she will be to get an empty card. Clarice already has her hands full taking care of Grandma, and should not have to worry about selfish relatives. God bless her.
Been There in New York
You and hundreds of others were upset that I was not more sympathetic to Clarice's situation. You are right. Being a caretaker is a difficult, demanding, and often thankless job, and Clarice deserves all the help she can get. Here are a few more letters on the subject:
From Canton, Ohio: Are you still writing your column, or did you turn it over to a bunch of greedy teenagers? I could not believe your answer to the woman who expects her sister to send birthday cards from Grandma. That woman should tell her children that Grandma is no longer capable of sending them birthday cards. To receive such cards with her signature on them would be deceptive and patronizing.
Lyndhurst, N.J.: I'll bet Clarice is an unmarried woman stuck with her 94-year-old senile grandmother. I wonder how long it has been since "Out East" visited Grandma. And when did she last help Clarice out so she could have a break from caring for Grandma? "Out East" says the birthday cards will help her children remember Grandma. Maybe "Out East" should bring Grandma to stay with her for a nice long visit. Then they'd remember her just fine.
Billings, Mont.: You dropped the ball, Ann. That sister is not missing the cards. She's missing the checks that came with them. I wonder how often she wrote Grandma a thank-you note for those checks. Probably never. She should be grateful Clarice is taking care of Grandma and managing her affairs. I doubt that "Out East" would want to assume that responsibility. I hope Clarice inherits whatever money Grandma has left. She deserves it.
Bryant, Ark.: If "Out East" knew how much time, energy, love and sacrifice it took to take care of Grandma, she would realize why cards and checks are not being sent. She should invite Grandma to live with her for a while, and see how much time she has left to send birthday cards, or anything else. "Out East" should be counting her blessings instead of whining to Ann Landers.
Mineola, Tex.: A 94-year-old grandmother should not be expected to observe anyone's birthday. The cards and checks she has given them over the years are evidence of her generosity, and that should be enough. We told our aging parents, "No more gifts, please," when it became apparent that it was a burden for them, both financially and physically.
College Point, N.Y.: You were not hard enough on "Out East." Instead of having Clarice send out cards in Grandma's name, the whole family should visit Grandma on her next birthday, so she will be included in the celebration. This will give Clarice a break, and give "Out East" an idea of what it is like to be a caregiver. There may not be many holidays left to share together. I would give anything to have my grandmother back for just one more family celebration.