Infant’s death faked for profit

I have been living with “Alex” for two years. We have a nine-month-old daughter, “Maggie.” I just found out that Alex told his employer that Maggie had died.

Dear Annie: I have been living with “Alex” for two years. We have a nine-month-old daughter, “Maggie.” I just found out that Alex told his employer that Maggie had died.

He received $300, and the company was going to hold a fundraiser to cover funeral expenses. I was furious. I called his boss and let him know that Maggie is alive and well. Alex resigned his position and returned the money.

Alex said he did it because I complained about our finances. That’s a lousy excuse. I complained because I was tired of supporting all three of us. I pay for everything, and Alex doesn’t contribute a dime.

I told him this was the last straw and he needed to move out. He says once he gets his own place, he wants to see Maggie.

Should I fight for sole custody and keep her from her father? — Confused Mom in Omaha

Dear Omaha: We understand your concern that if Alex has unsupervised visits with Maggie, he might sell her. But in spite of his greed, is Alex otherwise a good father? Does he love Maggie and care for her properly? Studies have shown that fathers who are involved in their children’s lives are a major factor in the development of the child’s self-confidence and how well they do in school.

Unless Alex is abusive or teaches Maggie to lie, cheat and steal, a healthy relationship between them will be best for everyone.

Dear Annie: For the next six months, I will be the acting manager on a large project.

My assistant works well when she is in a good mood, but can be a total killjoy otherwise.

Anything can set her off — a personal matter, my assigning a project to another assistant, if she disagrees with a decision I’ve made or if she feels slighted by someone else. When things do not go exactly her way, she becomes sullen and hostile.

This woman does a good job, as I have told her many times, but I find the work atmosphere poisoned by her unpredictable moods, and it is affecting my productivity. Her behavior is especially disappointing because I have spent a good deal of time appeasing her and mentoring her about proper office behaviour.

I’ve suggested she go back to graduate school so she will have a chance for advancement. I’ve tried to be patient and understanding, but I am tired of apologizing to other staff members for her actions, and I can’t take the sense of dread when I walk into the office every morning.

Any thoughts on how I can tactfully take control of this situation before I lose my cool? — Half a Year to Go

Dear Half A Year: You are trying too hard to be nice to someone who, quite frankly, sounds like a bottomless pit of self-absorption. The next time she whines, seriously suggest she seek therapy to learn how to deal with her chronic unhappiness.

Meanwhile, focus on the assignment. If you cannot ignore her moodiness, discuss the situation with human resources. Employees are not supposed to hurt productivity.

Dear Annie: “Desperate in Pennsylvania” asked about a clicking in her throat. For several years this happened to me. My internist ordered a Barium swallow, which showed Zenker’s diverticulum. I found an otolaryngologist at Duke Medical Center who had earlier worked to develop a staple-assisted noninvasive technique for closing the diverticulum.

When the surgeon examined me, there were about five interns looking on because it is a rather unusual condition.

The surgery took a short time, and I was given medication for pain and told to be on a liquid diet for 24 hours. Within a week, I felt great and there was no more clicking. I was 72 years old at the time.

“Desperate” may have a different condition, but the Barium swallow was a good way to “see” my problem. — Cloverdale, Va.

Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611.

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