Monthly Archives: December 2015

Dad’s WWII love letters give a glimpse into a forgotten past

Hidden in the attic were tales of war and sacrifice, love and resilience

By Lauren Stiller Rikleen for Next Avenue

WWII Letters-web

Stiller, right, with his commanding officer outside their tent.

It is always fun to read about other peoples’ attic discoveries of valuable art or historic artifacts. It is very different altogether to be the one to make such a find.

As I was moving an innocuous plastic container out of the way, I decided to see if there was anything inside I needed to keep. There was another smaller container with a tin foil top — clearly a sign that I was in the territory of my mom’s former belongings. I looked inside to see hundreds of impeccably organized letters, in careful script, and knew immediately what I had found. read more

What the dreams of the dying teach us about death

Most end-of-life dreams and visions were comforting, researchers said

By Emily Gurnon for Next Avenue


Credit: Thinkstock

Shortly before her death, Jeanne had a vivid dream.

She was lying in her bed at the hospice center, she told a researcher. People began walking past. On her right was a line of strangers who touched her arm or hand as they went by. On her left was a procession of loved ones who had died previously: her mother and father, her uncle and others. They also patted her arm, offered a comforting touch.

“It was a good dream,” she told the researcher (Jeanne’s full name was not disclosed). “I know that was my mom and dad and uncle and my brother-in-law.” Seeing her mother in that and other recent dreams was “wonderful,” she said. read more

5 ways to make sure your parents are safe in bad weather

You can’t control Mother Nature, but certain precautions are important

By Jasmine Dyoco for Next Avenue


Lately, it seems our headlines have been filled with stories about Mother Nature wreaking havoc on our surroundings. From horrible flooding to fast-spreading wildfires to monster hurricanes, weather and the damage it causes is putting human lives in danger. And as we gear up for a strong El Nino that is expected to bring heavy rains to California and big storms to the East, it doesn’t look like the winter months will bring much relief to many parts of the nation.

And while I certainly always want to keep my family safe, the person I worry about most when bad weather rolls in is my aging father. After all, getting to safety can be especially difficult for older adults. read more

How boomers can sell their homes to millennials

This real estate broker suggests four projects to snag a sale

By Sabine H. Schoenberg for Next Avenue


Newsflash to retiring boomers: Millennials account for 32 percent of real estate buyers, according to the National Association of Realtors. That’s why it’s essential to know what Millennials want in homes. Their values and desired lifestyles are very different than their boomer parents.

Millennials, perhaps more than boomers, have very specific criteria when choosing homes. Make your house fit their criteria and you will expand buyer interest, which means your home will sell faster and probably at a higher price. read more

4 rules for giving your heirs money while you’re alive

Before making a gift, be sure you know these tax implications

By Nick Clements for Next Avenue


Leaving money to heirs upon your death, by contrast, is a lot less taxing than you might expect. For inheritances, the 2015 federal estate tax exemption is $5.43 million per person. That means 99. 8 percent of people never have to pay an estate tax, because so few people have assets that exceed $5.43 million. However, if you want to give money to your children or grandchildren while you are still alive, you have options.

The goods news is that the estate tax exemption is a lifetime exemption that can also be used for gifts. Every dollar that you give as a gift today will just reduce the amount that you can transfer tax-free at the time of your death. read more

Remembering the wit of Erma Bombeck

A new play reminds us of one of America’s most-clipped columnists

By Richard Harris for Next Avenue


Credit: Photo by C. Stanley Photography Barbara Chisholm as Erma Bombeck in Erma Bombeck: At Wit’s End

Even at 9-years-old, Margaret (Peggy) and Allison Engel were avid newspaper readers. Each morning, the twin sisters from Chagrin Falls, Ohio, would spread the Cleveland Plain Dealer on the floor and devour the comics together — so neither could get a jump on the other.

As teenagers in the mid-‘60s, this morning ritual continued, but the girls found themselves increasingly drawn to a new columnist who made their mother laugh. “We thought newspapers were ponderous, but here was Erma Bombeck — funny without being a comic, offering insights into the world we grew up in: mothers and children in suburbia,” they say now, finishing each other’s sentence. read more