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by Abigail Van Buren

No Holiday Cheer for Wife Left Out of Gift Exchange

DEAR ABBY: My 88-year-old mother has vascular dementia, but is still able to live in her own home with 24-hour caregivers. Recently, Mom's sister, "Velda," visited her and asked the caregiver on duty to bring her a silver pitcher from Mother's dining room. Velda told the caregiver, "No one needs to know," and took it.

Of course, the caregiver promptly reported the incident to me, and I picked up the phone and confronted Aunt Velda. At first she denied taking the pitcher -- then she said it had originally belonged to their deceased brother. Then she accused ME of wanting it for myself and ended the conversation by sarcastically saying she thought Mother seemed "fine" to her -- and hung up on me!

What makes this so aggravating is it isn't the first time this has happened. One of my brothers says to forget it. The other is ready to file theft charges. What is the appropriate action, Abby? -- DEVOTED DAUGHTER IN HOUSTON

DEAR DEVOTED DAUGHTER: You are fortunate that your mother's caregiver reported the theft promptly. Instead of filing charges, instruct the caregiver to call you or your brothers the next time "Aunt Velda" shows up at the door.