KATHY MITCHELL AND MARCY SUGAR \ Annie's Mailbox Daughter can no longer take advantage of them

Dear Annie: I am in my second marriage to a wonderful man. I have two adult children, and "Brandon" has three teenagers. We never have any contact with his children unless they want something. Because of this, Brandon has chosen not to have a relationship with them.
My 25-year-old daughter has been in and out of drug rehab for the last eight years. We have repeatedly gotten her out of financial jams, and she has come to live with us four times to get straight. She does really well for a while and then just disappears for months at a time. The last time we let her move in, we told her if she left again, that would be the last time we helped.
Well, she was here for three months and then walked out, this time leaving most of her belongings. I have called her cell phone numerous times, begging her to let me know she is OK, and have not received any response. I know she is still working because I checked, but that's it.
My husband wants to pack up her stuff and take it to her job or to Goodwill. I know she cannot be allowed to move back into our home, but I can't give her stuff away. Brandon already has told me he will not stay if I continue to help her. How do I get past the feeling that I am turning my back on my child? Desperate
Dear Desperate: Brandon sounds rather rigid in his dealings with your children and his own, and we wish he would be more flexible. Still, your daughter is a grown woman and has to learn to be responsible for herself. You aren't abandoning her by packing up her things and dropping them off at her job. You are simply telling her that she cannot take advantage of your generosity any longer.
Keep the lines of communication open by continuing to call her, and whenever possible, make plans to meet her for lunch or dinner or whatever. We hope, in time, she will get her act together.
Dear Annie: I am a 55-year-old woman and have been a self-employed hair stylist for over 30 years. While I love my job, it's beginning to take its toll -- my feet burn from standing, and my whole body aches at the end of the day. I don't have health insurance, and a new plan simply costs too much.
I shudder at the thought of doing hair for another 10 years and am petrified my health will fail. Selling the business won't bring in much, and at my age, I'm not likely to find a job that would provide benefits. What can I do? Simi Valley, Calif.
Dear Simi Valley: If you are physically incapable of working, you may qualify for disability benefits. Here are a few other suggestions: Look into disability insurance that will cover you if you need to work part time. Invest in shoes with better support, and sit on a stool at least part of the time while you are styling hair. Cut back your hours, and use the extra time to look for a desk job. (Even one that doesn't provide benefits would get you off your feet.) Sell the business and work for a salon that pays benefits. Bringing along your own clientele could make you quite a catch.
Dear Annie: You recently printed a letter from "In a Pickle," whose retired friend, "Louis," monopolizes the conversation.
I'm also retired and losing sharpness. I suspect that Louis' constant chatter is covering up the fact that he can't hear what others are saying. Your advice telling him to see a doctor was on track, and I hope the doctor checks his hearing. J.K.
Dear J.K.: We heard from quite a few hard-of-hearing readers who saw themselves in that letter. Apparently, some folks would rather be thought boring and egocentric than admit they can't hear well. With thousands of Boomers getting closer to retirement, let's hope designer hearing aids become all the rage.
XE-mail your questions to anniesmailbox@com-cast.net, or write to: Annie's Mailbox™, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611.
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