Dear Ann Cannon • My dad has gotten quite elderly and he’s lost a lot of his filters. Some days he’s great, and other days he says strange or inappropriate things to waiters, bank clerks and doctors. He also says inappropriate things to his teenage grandkids. He does not have the personality or temperament where you could ask him to be careful about his comments. And in any case, with his cognitive issues, I doubt it would help. Any suggestions for dealing with him in public and family gatherings?
— Caring Daughter
Dear Daughter • Oh, this is hard territory for sure. It makes you want to send out advance notice to everyone he might encounter during the day to say THIS IS NOT WHO MY FATHER REALLY IS! The good news is that most people will figure that out on their own and, as a result, cut your dad some slack. My advice? Don’t spend too much time worrying about what other people think. Easy to say, I know. So much harder to do, especially when you’re concerned about a loved one embarrassing himself and, frankly, embarrassing you, too.
I agree that talking to your father probably won’t help much. It might not be a bad idea, however, to have a conversation with the kids. Talk to them about what’s happening to their grandfather and why. Meanwhile, keep responding to your father with patience and kindness and to the overall situation with good humor whenever possible. My brothers and I still laugh affectionately whenever we recall how much our mild-mannered grandfather swore after his filters went. In retrospect, those were sweet, tender times for our family.
Dear Ann Cannon • I casually met a woman and over time we became friends. But certainly not on the level of BFFs. She lives in an apartment and has several pets. One day she came to me and sadly shared that one of her cats had died. She “wrapped it up well” and put it in her freezer. She didn’t want to trash her beloved pet but had no place to bury it. Since we live in a house with a yard, she asked if she could bury her cat on our property. I’d like to help her, but it is an unusual request to be sure. Is it even legal to plant pets in the flower garden?
Dear Us • “Is it even legal to plant pets in the flower garden?” Hahahaha! Good one. OK. I personally have zero problems with people burying pets in the backyard, although I might draw the line at a pony. But while I’m pretty sure people bury pets in backyards all the time — we have a former guinea pig named Scott buried in our backyard — I did call Salt Lake County Animal Services just to check things out. Here’s a transcript of the call.
ME: Can I bury a hypothetical cat in my backyard?
THEM: Yes. You can even bury a nonhypothetical cat in your backyard.
Actually, that’s not what they said. They said to call the Salt Lake County Health Department instead, which I did, where a helpful employee named Josh told me it’s just fine to bury a cat in the backyard. Double bag it in black garbage bags, he said, and put it in a hole 4 feet deep.
So, there you are — you’re good to go. For the record, a friend of mine who lives in Manhattan asked if she could send me her cat’s ashes to sprinkle in our front yard because she believed Ninja (the cat) had been happier in Utah than he’d been after the two of them (Ninja and my friend) moved to New York City. I told her yes. But if the idea of having your neighbor’s cat buried in your flower garden bothers you, just say no.