I was never close to my mother-in-law, “Agnes.” She always came across as very religious and morally upright.
DEAR ABBY: I was never close to my mother-in-law, “Agnes.” She always came across as very religious and morally upright. She recently died of dementia. It came on so fast that there were things Agnes needed to take care of but was unable to. My husband was executor of her estate, so we had to go through all of her things and have them appraised after she passed.
One afternoon, my husband discovered a small binder tucked in the back of his mother’s lingerie drawer. He looked through it and to say he was “shaken” would be an understatement. He let me read it. Apparently, his parents enjoyed wife-swapping, and Agnes took notes detailing her activities. My husband hasn’t mentioned it since, and has left it to me to deal with. I have no idea what to do with it, but we certainly won’t share it with his deeply religious brother or our son, who thought the world of the only grandmother he’d known.
I hesitate to destroy her property, but I don’t feel it’ll benefit anyone to keep it. There is no one I can discuss this with, and it’s not a subject my husband wants to talk about. Your thoughts, please.
— EMBARRASSED IN OREGON
DEAR EMBARRASSED: I agree that it would be of no benefit to your brother-in-law or your son to learn their respected parents/grandparents were swingers — including the intimate details of the encounters. I’m voting for keeping the past buried along with Agnes.
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DEAR ABBY: My adult son “Josh” has moved into the home I share with my significant other, “Tom.” Josh is 30, and Tom is in his 60s. Josh has difficulty holding jobs and leaves in fits of anger if someone upsets him at work. This has put me in the middle. When he and Tom get angry at each other, they begin shouting.
I own the home we live in, so I could ask both to move out. I would also like to help my son find a job and housing so I can stop worrying about him being on his own with no place left to go. Josh is married. His wife lives with her parents nearby. Josh can’t stay there because he made hurtful comments to her mother.
I just want us all to get along. During their last fight, I threatened to run away and not tell Tom or Josh where I was. I’m on eggshells every day and don’t know what to do. Tom is on disability, and I’m still working. I am so frustrated I could scream. Can you help me?
— FAMILY PEACEMAKER
DEAR PEACEMAKER: I’ll try, but it will involve you being strong enough to draw a firm line and stand behind it. Insist that your son start counseling for his anger management problems, which are at the root of his employment and marital difficulties, or he will no longer be welcome in YOUR home. Give him a deadline to start and do not waffle. If you stand your ground, you will not only change the direction of Josh’s life but also may save your own romance.