Dad’s dying wish for burial becomes a financial burden

DEAR ABBY: How important are a dying person's last wishes? My dad died recently and said that he wanted to be buried with his first wife in a state far from where we live. If his estate - or his current wife - can't afford to comply with his request, would it be horrible to do something else?

In today's economy most seniors don't have any extra income. To follow Dad's final wishes would take a sizable chunk of his estate. His wife feels it's not important to follow his last wishes because of the cost, but it really bothers me.

Dad was in the Navy during WWII. If his wife isn't willing to spend the money, would I still be a good guy by scattering his ashes in the ocean? I know he'd rather be in the deep than sitting on a shelf in the work shed. Please help.

- Disturbed son in Nevada

DEAR DISTURBED SON: Your letter illustrates why it is important for people to have their wishes in writing. In this case, your father's wife would have the right to his ashes, unless it was stated otherwise in black and white.

As far as granting a personal last wish, you need to use your best judgment, particularly if doing so would cause financial hardship. In this case, cremation would be a creative way to make everyone happy. Your father's ashes could be divided into thirds, with one portion placed with his first wife, another with his second wife, and the rest scattered at sea.

DEAR ABBY: My spouse, "Jack," and I were married four years ago. Three years ago he made me choose between him and my then 7-year-old son. I haven't spoken to or seen my son for three years. Not having my child in my life has made me become depressed, but I keep it bottled up inside.

Jack has three children - all adults. We rarely see them. I brought two children into our marriage, ages 7 and 14. Jack says he doesn't want to be a father or grandfather. (We have three grandchildren.) I am scared to question why it is like this.

Am I a terrible mother/grandmother? Does this mean he doesn't really love me since my children are a part of me? I want to be a grandmother and enjoy my grandchildren. He knew I had kids when we were dating, but both of them lived with relatives at the time because of custody issues.

- Sad grandma in Arizona

DEAR SAD GRANDMA: It isn't that Jack doesn't love you. He appears to be so preoccupied with his own needs, desires and controlling you that he probably doesn't think about much else. That you are "scared" to question him speaks volumes about your relationship.

If you want to be a part of your children's and grandchildren's lives, you will have to do so without his blessing or participation. You will also have to strengthen your backbone and emancipate yourself.

DEAR ABBY: One of my neighbors regularly uses power equipment before 9 a.m. on Saturday mornings. I think people should refrain from using loud machinery before 10 a.m. on weekends. Am I being unreasonable?

- Deb in Tacoma

DEAR DEB: Not in my book. Most municipalities have noise ordinances in place that regulate sound levels that might become an annoyance. To find out if there is one in your neighborhood, inquire at City Hall. If there isn't, consider gathering signatures on a petition so regulations can be established. You may not be the only neighbor who is bothered by the disruption.

DEAR READERS: Along with the millions of Americans who are observing this Memorial Day, I would like to add my prayer of thanks to those men and women of our armed services who sacrificed their lives in service to our country. May they rest in peace.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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