DEAR ABBY: My mom has recently retired and is spending a lot of time at our home. She's constantly doing things -- emptying the washer, drying dishes. Anything that is untouched for a few minutes she'll get into. She also reorganizes our drawers and cabinets and thinks her way is best.
She even remakes the children's beds, which is part of their chores. She feels a bed needs to "air" for an hour after its occupant wakes up. When I tell her she doesn't need to do it, she says she doesn't mind -- but she's missing the point.
Mom is hurt because she feels I don't appreciate her, and I am hurt that she doesn't respect my rules. I'm grateful for everything she does, but I would like her to visit with her grandchildren and enjoy her retirement while she's at our home. What should I do? -- FRUSTRATED IN AUDUBON, PA.
DEAR FRUSTRATED: The problem isn't that your mother doesn't respect your rules. I suspect it's that she has worked all her life and isn't used to being idle. She may also feel so at home in your house that she automatically behaves as though she were in hers.
Have a chat with her and try to reach a compromise. Your drawers and cabinets should be off limits, and the children should be permitted to fulfill their chores. But if emptying the washer and drying the dishes makes her happy, let her do it and thank her for her efforts.
Your mother appears to be full of energy and have a lot of time on her hands. So why not encourage her to volunteer some of it at her church, a thrift store or a charity of her choosing? It will help her develop outside interests, meet new people and form some new friendships -- all of which will allow her less time to be "helping" you.
DEAR ABBY: My father died last year. Shortly after his funeral I sold his car to a friend in need for $200. Her husband let it slip a couple of days ago that they had discovered a cane tucked beneath the front seat with more than $300 stuffed inside. The bills had rotted, but they were able to take them to the bank and exchange them for new ones. They have spent the money.
I am torn. Shouldn't they have told me and perhaps offered to split that money? Or, since they bought the car, were all of its contents theirs? They got the car AND made $100 on the deal. -- FUMING IN WASHINGTON STATE
DEAR FUMING: You call these people friends? This isn't a matter of what would be right under the law. If they were true friends, they would have told you they had found the cane, in case it had sentimental value -- and offered you the contents as well.
DEAR ABBY: When someone I'm talking to starts to cry in front of me, I never know what to do. I often feel helpless. Should I hug the person? I usually end up just sitting there waiting for them to collect themselves. How can I comfort someone like this? -- FEELING HELPLESS IN FLORIDA
DEAR FEELING HELPLESS: Unless you know someone well, I do not recommend hugging. However, if there's a tissue available, it would be a kindness to hand it over and tell the person you're sorry he or she is hurting and if he or she needs to talk, you're willing to listen.
For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more sociable person, order "How to Be Popular." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)