DEAR ABBY: My daughter and son-in-law earn twice as much as my wife and I do. They insist that we visit them each year in California. My wife and I both have arthritis and find a heated pool therapeutic. They have a swimming pool, but they expect us to pay to heat it when we visit.
This is embarrassing because my three stepdaughters never expect us to pay for anything when we visit them, and we never ask our children to pay for anything when they visit in our home. Last year, my son who lives in Ohio paid to have his sister's pool heated while we were visiting in California.
Should we refuse to pay to heat my daughter's pool or keep our mouths shut and ante up? -- "HEATED" DAD IN MICHIGAN
DEAR "HEATED" DAD: It costs more to live in some areas of the country than others. Although your daughter and her husband earn twice as much as you do, their living expenses may be greater than yours, and it's possible their budget won't stretch to include heating the swimming pool.
If you haven't done so already, discuss this problem calmly with your daughter to determine if there is a reason for their request. Should you find their budget cannot accommodate heating the pool for you, ante up without complaining. If it causes you financial hardship, shorten your visits.
A word of caution: It never works in anyone's favor to compare one child with another, since their financial realities could be entirely different -- and comparisons could create hurt feelings.
DEAR ABBY: I was recently named executor and sole beneficiary of the estate of a dear relative who passed away. One of my cousins had the nerve to contact the attorney for the estate and demand to know why she hadn't received her inheritance.
Please, let me share a few "truths" that may save a lot of time, expense and hurt feelings for other families:
1. People of sound mind have the right to disburse their assets the way they choose.
2. No one owes anyone anything at the time of death (beyond paying personal debts, and final medical and funeral expenses).
3. An inheritance is a gift, not an obligation.
4. If your name is not on the list of beneficiaries, the deceased obviously had his or her reasons not to leave you anything.
If you loved and cared about the person who died, you will always have beautiful memories to treasure -- and in the end, isn't that what really matters? -- BLESSED IN IOWA
DEAR BLESSED: Your letter reminds me of a quotation by Henry Fielding (1707-1754): "If you make money your god, it will plague you like the devil."
WORTH SHARING: "The age of a person doesn't mean a thing. The best music is played on the oldest violins." -- Jesse Andrews (submitted by Herman M. Katz, Sierra Vista, Ariz.)
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