DEAR ABBY: My spouse and I, after many long years of school, advanced degrees and work in the corporate world, are now retired. We are (we hope) financially secure.
Both of us have siblings who were less successful for various reasons. What obligation do hardworking people have toward their less successful siblings, especially one who has been a freeloader his entire life?
"Rusty" sponged off his aging parents to keep from having to earn a decent living. We feel sorry for him, but it's the bed he made for himself years ago when he took shortcuts. We're afraid if we give him a hand, he'll expect an arm next time.
As far as I'm concerned, only Rusty's laziness prevents him from getting a part-time job to help pay the bills. If we give him money, we'll have to do it for the other siblings on both sides.
I know this sounds uncharitable, but we worked for 40 years and struggled through everything life had to throw at us. We saved every penny we could and invested wisely. How do we deal with family members who can take care of themselves, but don't? -- ANONYMOUS IN AMERICA
DEAR ANONYMOUS: You decide on a case-by-case basis, unless all of your family members are like Rusty. And if they are, you sympathize, but don't subsidize.
DEAR ABBY: Most of my childhood was spent with my grandparents, who raised me until I moved out at 21. I have always regarded them as my true parents because they were always there for me.
My biological parents were also a part of my life. I would visit them on weekends. I love them, too, and appreciate that they allowed me to have a stable childhood with my grandparents.
I am engaged to be married next summer, and I need to decide who should walk me down the aisle. I'd like my grandfather to have that honor, but I don't want to hurt my father by not asking him to do it.
What should I do when the time comes to make the decision? -- NAMELESS IN THE MIDWEST
DEAR NAMELESS: Consider asking both of them to walk you down the aisle. I'm sure it would touch not only their hearts, but also those of your guests to see you honor your grandfather, who was your "weekDAY father," as well as your dad, your "weekEND father."
DEAR ABBY: Organized religion has caused me many difficulties throughout my life. I would like to distance myself from it as much as possible. I consider myself a "religious independent." I believe in God, but I don't believe organized religion has anything to do with God.
My question concerns my funeral. Since a funeral is an organized religious ceremony, is it possible to have one without clergy being present? Have you heard of anything like this, and what would you suggest? -- WASHINGTON, D.C., READER
DEAR READER: Instead of a funeral, many people choose to have a "celebration of life," independent from religion. Make sure your family and friends understand your wishes, then talk to a funeral home director and make pre-planning arrangements.
For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order "How to Have a Lovely Wedding." Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $7 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)