DEAR ABBY: My father died eight years ago. Mother couldn't afford to bury him at the time, so he was cremated. Mom asked me to keep his ashes until her time was up so they could be buried together. Having the ashes makes me feel like he is still with me, that I have not totally lost him. However, over the last year, my brothers and sisters have led my mother to believe that I won't respect her wishes to have them buried together when the time comes. She is pressuring me to bury him NOW. It hurts me that my family could even think I would take that away from my mother. To this day, my siblings say mean things about Dad, claiming he was a "terrible" father and husband. I'm a lot younger than the rest of them, so it's possible I never saw the bad side of him. The father I knew was a caring and loving man, and it drives me crazy to hear my siblings say that. Abby, I don't know what to do. If I go ahead and bury my dad's ashes now, I feel I will be losing him completely.
- Sad & Misunderstood Daughter
DEAR DAUGHTER: Perhaps there is a way to satisfy everybody. Before returning your father's ashes to your mother and siblings for burial, take a small portion to keep for yourself. Your feelings are not all that unusual - and not all ashes are scattered or buried. Sometimes they are retained for decades by family members not yet ready to part with them.