West Virginians getting a bum rap

May I use your column to defend our beautiful state of West Virginia? For the umpteenth time, I’ve heard someone comment that people here have no teeth and marry their siblings.

Dear Annie: May I use your column to defend our beautiful state of West Virginia? For the umpteenth time, I’ve heard someone comment that people here have no teeth and marry their siblings.

While most of us take this with a smile and a shrug, I want to tell people that if you think our governor wears bib overalls and smokes a corncob pipe, then you are showing your ignorance.

West Virginians are wonderful, smart, decent, hardworking people with a great sense of humour. We invite everyone to come see our beautiful seasons, and our mountains, parks, forests, rivers and streams — but most of all, to experience our small-town hospitality. Thanks for letting me vent. — Grammie in Fairmont, W.Va.

Dear Grammie: Feeling better? We’re happy to give tourism a boost. As anyone who has visited knows, West Virginia is a beautiful state with lovely scenery and a gracious population. All stereotypes show the speaker’s ignorance, but they are hard to eradicate, so it’s a good thing you also have such a great sense of humour.

Dear Annie: I am a 15-year-old boy and an only child. I get good grades and my social life is somewhat fair. I have no drama except for one thing – my mom.

Mom is 40 years old and has a full-time job. But she can’t speak to me in a soft tone.

Every time she talks to me, she yells. No one can tell her that she needs help — she gets angry. She cooks, but rarely cleans. I do most of the chores in the house.

She is stingy when it comes to money and won’t even give her spare change to charity. She rarely listens to me unless I say something about my dad. My parents had some trouble not long ago and contemplated divorce, but they are now back together. But she still is mad at him for cheating on her.

I’ve suggested we go to counseling, but she refuses. Every day I try to put up with her, and I know my dad does, too. Is it too much to ask that she be more polite and friendly? It hurts me to know I can’t make her happy. I can’t take it anymore.

I want her to understand and listen to me more often. – Misunderstood Boy in Guam

Dear Misunderstood: It sounds as if your mother has been going through some rough times and she is angry and frustrated.

You are right that counselling would be good, but you can’t force her to go. You, however, should talk to someone who can help you deal with this situation better.

Does your school have a counsellor? If not, do you have a favorite teacher or relative who might be able to offer useful advice and a shoulder to lean on? You seem like a terrific and caring son. Please try to give your mother a hug once in a while and tell her you love her. She needs to hear it.

Dear Annie: I’m a member of a family that has dealt with mental illness for years. I would like to pass on some good information for “Total Loss,” whose son may be suffering from mental illness.

Getting an adult son to a doctor may be impossible (if he doesn’t think he is ill), but she can call 911 and ask the police to take him to the local psychiatric emergency room for an evaluation.

My heart goes out to her, as my family has seen this happen too many times. – California

Dear California: Thank you for the expert advice from one who has been there and gone through that. Mental illness is a devastating blow to a family, but there is help and support available.

Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to anniesmailbox@comcast.net.

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