DEAR ABBY: My father died eight years ago. Mother couldn't afford to bury him at the time, so he was cremated. Mom asked me to keep his ashes until her time was up so they could be buried together.
I have had them ever since. It makes me feel like he is still with me, that I have not totally lost him. However, over the last year, my brothers and sisters have led my mother to believe that I won't respect her wishes to have them buried together when the time comes. She is pressuring me to bury him now. It hurts me that my family could even think I would take that away from my mother.
To this day, my siblings say mean things about Dad, claiming he was a "terrible" father and husband. I'm a lot younger than the rest of them, so it's possible I never saw the bad side of him. The father I knew was a caring, loving man, and it drives me crazy to hear my siblings speak ill of him. They don't remember his birthday, the date of his death or even how long ago it was.
Abby, I don't know what to do. If I go ahead and bury my dad's ashes now, I feel I will be losing him completely. Please help me. I feel so lost. -- SAD AND MISUNDERSTOOD DAUGHTER
DEAR DAUGHTER: Perhaps there is a way to satisfy everybody. Before returning your father's ashes to your mother and siblings for burial, take a small portion to keep for yourself. Your feelings are not all that unusual -- and contrary to popular belief, not all ashes are scattered or buried. Sometimes they are retained for decades by family members who are not yet ready to part with them.