DEAR AMY: My childhood best friend, "Lynn," died after a long battle with colon cancer. She asked me to spread her ashes in Ireland, off of cliffs that we once visited together on a vacation. She asked me this the last time I saw her, and I was completely stunned, but agreed. She died a couple of days later. That was nine years ago. Lynn never married or had children. We grew up together, attended college together, and she was my maid of honor. Her ashes are safe in an urn in my home, but I just feel so guilty that I did not carry out her final wishes. It's just not realistic for me to go to Ireland. I'm retired, and can't devote that kind of money to a trip. I have no other reason to go back there. My husband suggested that I hire someone in Ireland, and ship the ashes to them to spread. But I don't know anyone there, and would not feel comfortable leaving this to someone else. What do you think I should do?
DEAR HOLDING: In researching your question, I note that there are professional "scattering" services, which you can hire to scatter a person's ashes. An internet search will reveal some options for you to consider. The cost to do this in Europe seems to be about half the cost of a flight and a stay in Ireland.
In the United States, roadscholar.org conducts tours to Ireland. You could contact this company; they might be able to connect you with a local guide in Ireland who would be willing to undertake this important task for you.
You could also try to contact a church in the area where your friend wanted her ashes scattered to see if someone affiliated with the church would be willing to do this, according to your instructions.
In the meantime, you could also scatter portions of your friend's ashes in closer locations that you know were meaningful to her, and where you could think of her when you visited, perhaps off the coast of Cape Cod, where (you might imagine) currents from the Atlantic would carry them toward Ireland.
Putting some effort into solving this is better than being paralyzed and feeling guilty. Your effort will clarify your options and help you to make a choice.
DEAR AMY: My 15-year-old niece and I are very close. She recently revealed to me that her mother (my older sister) has been taking her money! I confronted my sister regarding this, and she told me that because my niece is underage and lives in her house, any money she earns or brings into the house belongs to my sister. I was stunned! My sister also revealed to me that she expects her daughter to pay for gas if she is driven to the mall or local amusement park. I feel that whatever money my niece has and makes is hers and hers alone. I also feel asking for a ride to the mall or movies shouldn't require giving her mother gas money (especially when her mother already takes her money)! Am I overstepping my role as an aunt by saying something to my sister about how unfair and completely ridiculous this is? Should a teenager who doesn't drive have to pay a parent for gas?
DEAR UPSET: I agree with you that, depending on the circumstances, a teen should be able to keep the money she receives or earns. Understand that in some cultures and under certain circumstances, children are expected to use their earnings to contribute to the household.
Yes, you should speak with your sister about this, but you cannot realistically expect her to change. You might choose to hold aside some savings to present to your niece once she leaves your sister's household.
DEAR AMY: Your recent response to "Picture Poor" was unhelpful and inadequate. A grandfather generously took two of his granddaughters to Paris and his only request was for them to send him pictures in which he appeared. Your response was to acknowledge the granddaughter was rude to him, but for the grandfather to just be patient and never "mention it again." If I were the mother of those two ungrateful daughters, I would want to know about their behavior. Your advice to handle this with the girls was not appropriate.
DEAR DISAPPOINTED: I gave this grandfather credit for trying to negotiate with the granddaughters about this, but I definitely see your point.