DEAR ABBY: When we married in 1998, my husband "Grant" and I agreed that we would never put our parents into a nursing home as long as we were physically able to care for them. After our home was built, my father-in-law, "Papa Jake," moved in with us. Papa Jake is now 73, wheelchair-bound from a stroke, and an alcoholic.
He gets into his motorized wheelchair every day and heads out to the local bar, which is a mile away. When he returns, he's completely intoxicated, and sometimes falls. Papa Jake is also belligerent toward me, and I don't want our 2-year-old son living in this environment. I didn't bargain on this when I married Grant.
Grant refuses to tell Papa Jake that if he can't live by the rules he needs to leave. I have reached my limit. I love Grant, but I can't live like this anymore. When is enough enough? -- FED UP IN NEW YORK
DEAR FED UP: Papa Jake appears to be a danger to himself. If you haven't already done so, inform his doctor about what's going on. It's extremely unfair of your husband to wimp out and allow his father to treat you so disrespectfully -- let alone drive his wheelchair drunk on the public roads.
The bargain you made with your spouse was that you would care for his father as long as you were physically able. Well, since you are not physically able to prevent Papa Jake's forays to the bar (which put his safety at risk), insist that the time has come for Jake to go, and do not back down.
DEAR ABBY: Before a game, my friend asked if I ever had a flame-shooter. Then he went into the bathroom and got a can of hair spray and some matches. He told me to light the match and hold it. While I was holding the match, he sprayed the hair spray on it, and then my hand caught fire. I wasn't burned, but it scared me.
I'm not sure what to do. I want him to still be my friend, but I don't want him to get hurt. Should I let him keep doing it, or should I tell someone and have them tell him to stop? -- WORRIED IN KANSAS
DEAR WORRIED: Have you ever heard the saying that people who play with fire usually wind up getting burned? This applies to you and your friend. All you would need is for one of those "flame-shooters" to explode in your faces, and there would be lifelong consequences. The next time your "friend" suggests playing that game, tell him you'd prefer to do something else. Your mother or your teacher should inform his mother about what her son is up to. The boy is a tragedy waiting to happen.
DEAR ABBY: Early this year, I lost my precious father to cancer. Mom and Dad's 50th wedding anniversary would have been in a few weeks, and we had started planning a big celebration. Now that Dad is gone, how can we acknowledge this day? It seems a shame to do nothing, since in her heart, Mom will always be "with" my father.
Is there a way to have a special acknowledgement of any kind? Any suggestions would be welcome. -- GRIEVING BUT GRATEFUL IN ATLANTA
DEAR GRATEFUL: While a large celebration of your parents' marriage would not be appropriate, I see no reason why family members and close friends shouldn't take your mother out on this emotionally loaded occasion. Certainly, she should not be alone -- and I am sure she would welcome the emotional support.
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