Last week I ran a question from a reader who wanted advice about how to deal with a deceased parent’s belongings when adult siblings have conflicting approaches. I received this lovely letter from another reader in response. I think the insight she offers is gently wise and helpful.

Dear Ann Cannon • My father passed in 1999. My mother lived to be 90 and died in 2016 after moving near us in West Jordan. She had a darling little senior townhome close by and when she passed, it fell to me to sort through all of her life.

As I was caught up in nostalgia, I felt hesitant to toss out so many of the personal belongings that stirred strong, heartfelt memories of my parents. I felt as if I was throwing their lives away.

My daughter brought me back to earth with a simple bit of wisdom. By letting go of my mother’s things, I was giving new life to her dishes, clothing, furniture, etc. My husband and I have an already well-stocked home, and there just wasn’t room for all of it. What could we do? Build an additional home on our property to store it all?

So we donated. Goodwill and Calvary Baptist Thrift shops made a killing. But all of her cookware, serving dishes, silverware, clothes and furniture went to people who would appreciate them, and those things had a new purpose and value. Rather than being hidden away and boxed in a corner of our basement, those things were used every single day by someone.

Yes, I kept half a hope chest full of pictures and bought an additional curio cabinet for special items, but by and large, I let go of 99 percent of my mother’s belongings. Of course it was easier for me because I had no one to struggle with. But it isn’t a betrayal of trust and love to part with things. It’s OK to know they’re of use and matter to someone else.

— Been There

Dear Ann Cannon • How do I deal with that guy? You know. The one who pulls out his phone in the middle of a movie and starts texting?

— Majorly Annoyed


There. Was that a forceful enough statement? Because it’s true. Our phones must go.

Which is why I feel really embarrassed to confess that I actually started texting when I was at the movies last week, something I promise I have never ever done before. But here’s what happened. There was a family issue. And I was waiting for information. So I carefully removed my phone from my pocket to see if there was a text waiting for me. When there wasn’t, I began texting myself.

I tried to be as discreet as possible, shielding the phone with my hand, putting it under my sweatshirt, so on and so forth, blah, blah, blah. But yeah. Mea culpa. I was texting during a movie. In other words I was that guy.

(Except for the part where I’m not technically a guy.)

Eventually the lady behind me reached over and in a pleasant voice asked me to put my phone away. It was, she said, distracting. And she was right.

Which leads us back to your question. What do you do when someone displays bad public phone manners? You can either ignore him or you can ask her to put her phone away. Bonus points if you can be polite while doing so — even if you don’t think the offender deserves it.

Do you have a question for Ann? Email her at or visit the Ask Ann Cannon page on Facebook.