Annie’s Mailbox: Children losing time with dying father
November 7, 2009
Dear Annie: My parents divorced 18 years ago, and Dad has had numerous partners and wives since. Three months ago, Dad found out he had stage-four colon cancer. Two weeks after his diagnosis, he married "Sue."
Here's the problem: Before he was sick, Dad didn't get along that well with Sue. They argued a lot, and my sisters and I thought he'd eventually break it off. Still, we were all polite to her and invited her to family gatherings. As soon as they married, Sue started pushing us away. Her family members had confrontations with my sisters at the hospital, telling us we were butting in too much.
Dad recently came home. We are determined to do whatever we can to help and be with him until his final day. When we told Dad how upset we were, he said he is too sick to argue with Sue.
Dad just had a birthday. We gave him a puppy since he told us in the hospital that he wanted one to sit with him through chemo. Sue got rid of it. I know he's terribly depressed because he keeps asking for his gun back. We don't want to create problems. We just want to be part of Dad's life before we lose him. Any ideas?
— Confused in Michigan
Dear Confused: This type of situation is sad but not uncommon. Sue needs to control everything in your father's environment in order to cement her position as his wife. She fears you may influence him in a way that does not benefit her. If you think she is truly abusive, call the authorities. Otherwise, do your best to give Sue the control and respect she thinks she deserves in order to find a way to see your father and offer him some comfort.
Dear Annie: My 16-year-old sister has aplastic anemia, a rare bone marrow disorder. She survives off weekly platelet and red blood cell transfusions. She was hoping to get a bone marrow transplant as soon as we could find a match, but none of her potential matches has panned out.
My amazing sister can live off these transfusions for another two years and then that's that. Please let your readers know they could save a life by donating bone marrow. All you have to do is have your mouth swabbed to be put into the system. If more people would do this, maybe we could find someone who is a good match for my sister.
Dear Carrie: You are a loving sister, and we hope a match will become available. Those who are willing to participate in this lifesaving procedure can get more information through the National Marrow Donor Program (marrow.org), 3001 Broadway St., NE, Suite 100, Minneapolis, MN 55413-1753.
Dear Annie: I was angered by your answer to "Confused Mom in Omaha," whose husband told his boss their infant daughter had died so he could collect money. You asked, "In spite of his greed, is Alex otherwise a good father?" Are you kidding?
Yes, a child should have a father involved in her life, but only if he is a good, stable person. This father obviously is not. You should retract your advice, apologize and suggest "Confused" consult an attorney.
— Angered in Tallahassee
Dear Angered: We understand, but disagree. Dad did not try to hurt his daughter. He was simply pulling a con job. And while that may not make him a very good person, it doesn't mean he doesn't love his daughter, and we don't think he should be prevented from having supervised visits. For HER sake, not his.