Annie's Mailbox: Couple needs help

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Dear Annie: My good friend “Allie” works full time and lives in low-income housing. Like many others, she lives day to day.

Allie has befriended a couple that has fallen on hard times. From time to time, she allows them to live with her. The husband was diagnosed with lung cancer more than a year ago. The wife works full time and has health insurance. But her entire paycheck goes to cover the high cost of his prescription medications.

Several months ago, they were evicted from their apartment and have been living all over the place, including with Allie. They hocked their wedding rings and nearly everything they owned. Allie cannot let them stay more than 15 days a year or she faces eviction.

There has got to be some help for this couple. Do you or any other readers out there have any suggestions?

— Cornered in California

Dear Cornered: Allie should suggest that her friends talk to a social worker at the hospital where the husband is being treated. They often have information on what type of assistance is available, can guide them through the process and will know whether they qualify for any kind of state aid. The couple also should contact the American Cancer Society (cancer.org) at 1-800-ACS-2345 (1-800-227-2345) for help and information.

Dear Annie: Can you explain why so many professional advice givers tell people to keep quiet when they learn that the spouse of someone they know is having an affair?

I’ve been the victim of adultery twice and both times found out on my own. The pain it caused is indescribable. I would have preferred to find out sooner rather than later.

I am now in the position of knowing at least two other people whose spouses are having an affair, and I want to tell them about it. Shouldn’t these cheating spouses be called to task for their hurtful behavior? If I knew someone was stealing from his employer, shouldn’t I tell the employer?

I realize it could backfire and the person could become angry with me, so I’d just tell them anonymously.

— Been Hurt

Dear Been: Many spouses prefer not to know about affairs — it allows them to remain conveniently oblivious (for whatever reason) instead of being forced to confront a situation that could wreck their marriage. Still, we recommend spouses be informed when there is clear proof of cheating, because sexually transmitted diseases can be life-threatening. Yes, it can risk the friendship, but most friends have difficulty keeping quiet because it feels like a betrayal. There is no easy answer. You must do what your conscience tells you.

Dear Annie: You’ve printed some letters recently about grandparents who overindulge with gifts.

I don’t remember too many things my grandparents bought me. I still have the rocking horse that Grandpa built with his own hands and Grandma helped paint and finish. I remember the Christmas that Grandpa got down on the floor and played trucks with me. I remember walking through the woods with them while they taught me the names of every tree, flower and bird. I recall the mornings Grandpa took me fishing on the lake and Grandma had a picnic lunch waiting for us. I remember sneaking out with Grandpa to get ice cream on summer afternoons. And how he would stop on the porch to listen when Grandma was playing the organ and say, “Isn’t that just beautiful?”

I remember the flashlight he gave me when I left for college. He wanted to make sure I was safe. But the last gift was the afternoon I spent playing cribbage with him. The things you make, the stories you tell, and your knowledge and time are the most precious gifts you can give.

— Montana Granddaughter

Dear Montana: What lovely memories. Those are gifts that last a lifetime.

Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to anniesmailbox@comcast.net, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 5777 W. Century Blvd., Ste. 700, Los Angeles, CA 90045. To find out more about Annie’s Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

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