Dear Annie: I was adopted at birth. I was a “daddy’s girl,” and although he always stood up to my Mom on issues of discipline, it was very clear that Mom and I were oil and water. As the family therapist put it, Dad was the glue that held us together.
When Dad died two years ago, Mom wasted no time appointing an attorney as financial guardian who allowed no contact between us. She recently died, and I want only one thing – a piece of artwork that one of Dad’s graduate students made for him. Dad had promised it to me but died without a will saying so. It has no market value whatsoever, and I cry imagining it going for a dollar at somebody’s yard sale.
My husband formed a very real bond with my father and cares about this issue almost as much as I do. How do we approach the estate? I don’t want to make the hurt worse. – San Diego
Dear San Diego: Talk to the executor of the estate or go to the probate court. Your request for the artwork will be treated respectfully. If you are the only child, you may have a legal claim to this property unless Mom put other specific arrangements in writing. The most painful outcome is if Mom already disposed of the piece, but then you are no worse off than you are now, so it can’t hurt to ask.
Dear Annie: As a person who grew up in hand-me-downs, I was interested in the letter from “Grannie Loves Them All,” whose rich daughter won’t donate her children’s old clothes to her poorer brother. You mentioned the possibility that Sis may believe her brother would be resentful.
The key is to forget the fact that the clothes are used and remember the sharing. Clothes can be handed down for many reasons, and need is just one of them. It also can be a way to bring the brother and sister together and introduce the cousins to each other.
I once owned a blue Windbreaker that my mother loved to wear. She borrowed it often and wore it on her trips with friends. My jacket had lovely vacations in Europe and Asia. When the seams ripped, she bought a new one and told me I could borrow it any time I wanted.
After Mom died, I visited a friend of hers in the nursing home. I noticed she was shivering, so I handed her the jacket. I told her the story of the Windbreaker and said she could wear it as long as she needed. This woman was a childless widow with no close relatives, and that jacket was a connection to friends. When she died, the staff returned the Windbreaker and now it means even more. – Miss My Mom
Dear Miss: Thanks for sharing your real-life version of “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” and a compelling argument for hand-me-downs.