Mother didn't use gifts for funeral expenses

Dear Annie: Last January, my 24-year-old half-brother passed away. My husband and I paid for part of the funeral service since my brother was unemployed and had no life insurance policy. We also paid for the flowers my mother sent.
We requested that people make donations to the funeral home in lieu of flowers to help defray the remaining costs of the service. Several people were generous enough to give me money directly, which I gave to my mother. However, instead of using it to pay for the funeral, Mom kept the cash.
I never dreamed she would do something like this. Had I not called the funeral home to inquire about the balance, I never would have known she absconded with $165. When I questioned Mom, she used the rationale that her ex-husband owed back child support for my half-brother, so she was justified in taking the money.
Annie, the people who gave those donations were my friends and didn't know my half-brother's dad, although he is paying for the rest of the funeral expenses and the cost of the headstone.
I refuse to speak to my mother until she pays the money back. I know she can afford it. How do I make her understand? I miss her, but I can't forgive her until she does the right thing. Any suggestions? Heartbroken in Indiana
Dear Heartbroken: It sounds like your mother had a case of sticky fingers and couldn't resist the cash in her pocket. While her behavior seems disrespectful to her son's memory, it is not unusual for people to react to grief in bizarre ways.
Your anger has put your mother on the defensive, and now she feels obligated to make excuses. Talk to her, calmly, and ask how things can be made right between you. Then, no matter what she says, try to forgive her.
Dear Annie: I love your column and read it every day. I hope you can help.
My son and daughter-in-law always pick up my 18-month-old granddaughter by her hands instead of under her arms. Every time I see this, I cringe.
I worry they might pull her arms out of their sockets. Annie, find out if this can be harmful. Worried Grandma
Dear Grandma: You have good reason to cringe. We called Dr. T. Berry Brazelton, noted pediatrician and author of "The Brazelton Way" books on child care (Da Capo Press). Dr. Brazelton said there is indeed a possibility of dislocating the child's elbow by picking her up by the hands or arms. Now that you have heard it from the top doc in the field, we hope it will convince your son and his wife to stop.
Dear Annie: This past weekend, my husband and I attended the wedding of a relative. During the reception, an announcer said the wedding party would be first through the buffet line. The rest of us (about 14 tables) would have to "bid" to see who went next. We were told to put our money in the middle of the table and the highest bidder would get to eat first. This transaction went on at each table before any guest was allowed to go through the line.
We were insulted and embarrassed at this tackiness, and many of us got up and left. Were we wrong, or is this a new trend? Offended in South Dakota
Dear South Dakota: And we thought wedding behavior couldn't sink any lower. Not only were you expected to pay for your own dinner, but you had to wrestle the other guests for the privilege. The bride and groom probably thought it was cute. We think you had the right idea to leave while you still had some dignity.
Creators Syndicate