Q. I’m a woman in my 90s. My husband and I were married in 1949 when I was 21. He died in 2001. We have one son.
When it came time to pay for my husband’s funeral, there wasn’t any spare money at all. He’d had three $50,000 accident policies from his work, but I found out that all three policies had been cashed.
I didn’t know, in our 52 years of marriage, that he gambled. Once the unpaid bills came in, my son helped as much as he could with the expenses, but it still wasn’t enough.
Our home was paid in full in 1984, and now it is reverse-mortgaged to my bank. I’ve been on a seesaw with maintenance, and I got a huge loan out for repairs that I’m paying back monthly. I’m only OK financially each year after the end of June, when income, property and school taxes are all paid.
I attend church every Sunday and am a volunteer there. But when I am asked to go to a function – a movie, an event – I rarely have the money and often have to say I can’t go.
I only have one credit card and that loan at the bank. I am frustrated and don’t want to be bitter anymore. Could you tell me how to get over this? – Stretched Thin
A. I’m so sorry. You have been too stressed for too long. The National Foundation for Credit Counseling (800-388-2227) can refer you to free or low-cost financial advice, if you’d like to see what you can do to relieve some of that pressure. But I get the impression your question is more about how to cope emotionally and socially, not financially.
Be open with friends about what you’re going through. You might find more people can relate than you’d expect. Commiserating is liberating.
You don’t need to spend money to get the priceless benefits of enjoying others’ company. Try participating in more community events, such as neighborhood picnics and church socials. Check to see whether your local library offers any free courses. Find volunteer opportunities. The more you throw yourself into bigger causes the smaller your own problems will seem.
Dear Annie: I would like to say this message to “Riley,” the 15-year-old boy whose family has rejected him because he is gay.
Riley, I was greatly moved by your letter. Please know that I care about you because you seem to me, from your letter, to be the type of person who has a lot to give to the world.
Everyone has to come to terms with self-acceptance. Sometimes our friends are more supportive than our families. I hope that you will surround yourself with positive people who are willing to listen to you and give you a hug. Please consider talking to a school counselor or compassionate parent of a friend’s. A friend of mine suggested reading the book “The Letter Q: Queer Writers’ Notes to Their Younger Selves.”
Know there will always be many people who care about you and the choices you make. – Love and Hugs From Your Surrogate Mom
Dear Surrogate Mom: Riley’s letter has provoked an outpouring of love. Hundreds of readers have written in to express their support for the young man. To any young person facing rejection because of your sexuality: There are people rooting for you with all their hearts.
Send your questions for Annie Lane to firstname.lastname@example.org.