Dear Ann:

My husband, "Waldo," gets a ride to work five days a week from a friend who lives in our neighborhood. The drive takes over an hour, and Waldo really does appreciate the ride. He has offered to pay his friend, but the guy refuses to accept any money. He does, however, allow Waldo to fill the tank occasionally.

Here's the problem, Ann. Waldo and I see very little of each other because we both work long hours. This friend loves to gab. When he drives Waldo home, the two of them sit in front of our house for hours, talking and drinking beer. When I suggested he tell the guy he needs to go inside, Waldo became angry and said, "That's why you don't have any friends."

Do you think it's me, Ann? Does Waldo owe this fellow hours of talk because he gives him a ride to work? I would appreciate your thoughts on this because I am doing a . . .

Slow Burn in Ohio

Would you prefer that Waldo sit in a tavern with his friend and drink beer? Face the facts, dear. Your husband enjoys the guy's company. He also enjoys the beer.

P.S.: Maybe if you'd consider cutting back your hours at work a few days a week and "sweeten up," Waldo would come in the house sooner.

Dear Ann:

My dear father suffered a stroke recently, and has been in a convalescent center for the past three months. I am able to visit him more frequently than other family members because I live in the same city.

Although the illness has impaired Dad's memory and thought process, there are many days when he is lucid and speaks quite clearly. Most of the time, I can only relate these conversations to other family members over the telephone, and much gets lost in the retelling. My wonderful cousin came up with a simple solution that I hope will help others in the same situation.

My cousin suggested I bring a small cassette recorder with me when I visit my father. This way, I can state the date, and let my father know we are taping his conversation for others to enjoy. Some days, he understands, other days he doesn't, but the visit is there for all the grandchildren, nieces and nephews to treasure and be able to hear Dad's voice. The tapes are easy to send in the mail and will serve as a living diary. Please let your readers know.

Liz in Sacramento, Calif.

What a splendid idea! As time goes on, those tapes will become more valuable. How I wish I had thought of it when I interviewed my grandfather for a paper I was writing for my English class in 1936. I am sure my grandchildren and great-grandchildren would be fascinated with the stories he told about his life in Russia, and how he came to the United States and landed on Ellis Island.

Family histories can enrich the lives of those who come after us, long after we are gone. Pay attention, readers. You will be glad you did.

Dear Ann:

Ever since my husband, "Ed," died six years ago, mail has been arriving addressed to him. These letters try to sell him everything from cars to magazine subscriptions. Yesterday, a letter came for Ed from a well-known insurance company. Enclosed were forms for him to fill out to apply for life insurance. The man has been dead for six years. Needless to say, this was very upsetting for me.

How often do these companies update their mailing lists?

Canadian Widow

From what you have written, I would say, not often enough.

To find out more about Ann Landers and read her past columns, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

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