DEAR ABBY: My mother moved in with my sister in California around 1993. After 20 years, I asked her what she wanted to do with her storage unit, which was still in Arizona. Long story short, she said: "Clear it out. I don't even know what's in there. Take whatever you want, keep the pictures and give the rest to Goodwill." My sisters have the same recollection. Over the next three or four years, my sisters and I proceeded to do so.
Mom has moved in with me now, at 80 years old, and says she may be moving out into her own place in the future. The items I use in my household are starting to disappear. She says she's reclaiming them. I told her they are things I use and that she gave them to us years ago. Who is correct? Should I keep the items as mine? Or should my mother be able to take them back after specifically giving them up, since they have been integrated into our households? -- CLEARED OUT IN THE WEST
DEAR CLEARED OUT: Your mother may be having some memory glitches, or may regret giving up her independence and the items that symbolize it. Do not be defensive. Tell her that when she has a place of her own "in the future," you will gladly return any items she needs. Do not let this degenerate into an argument. She has been living with your sister -- and now you -- over the last 26 years for a reason. Some seniors move in with their children because they are medically or financially unable to manage on their own.
DEAR ABBY: My husband likes to wear my underwear, and it grosses me out. He knows I don't approve and promises he won't do it again, but he does. I can't even stand to look at him. What should I do? -- DISTURBED IN TEXAS
DEAR DISTURBED: The first thing to do would be to understand that not every woman who is married to a cross-dresser feels as strongly as you do about it. Do some research about cross-dressing -- its causes and why some men feel the compulsion to do it. If after that you are still grossed out and unable to understand why your husband needs to do this, it may be time to schedule some marriage counseling to see if your marriage can be saved.
DEAR ABBY: It won't be long before Easter is here. Please remind your readers to never give live animals as holiday gifts. There are adorable plush toy animals available that can be held tightly and snuggled safely -- for all concerned. -- A MOM IN EVANSTON, ILL.
DEAR MOM: Thanks for the timely reminder to parents and grandparents. Children should not be gifted with pets until they are old enough -- and responsible enough -- to care for them. Adorable chicks and baby bunnies have been squeezed or neglected to death because the children had no concept of how they should be treated. And even when the children ARE old enough, the parents should first agree that the little creature is welcome.
Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)