I am the son of a mother who suffered from a neurological illness for almost 10 years before her recent death. My work required I go overseas for several months at a time. So during the last years of her life, my uncle and I shared power of attorney over her so that we could jointly arrange medical care and deal with her finances. I am deeply grateful for his help. After my mother’s death, I noticed some property from our family home was missing. In particular, an antique Paddington Bear that my mother had given me as a child. I had cherished that bear when I was young and was sad to see it lost. A few weeks ago, at a family reunion, I noticed my cousin’s 7-year-old daughter playing on the floor with the bear. My relationship with my cousin is tense as she was very judgmental about my being away for periods during my mother’s long illness. I mentioned to her that I remembered the bear from childhood and my cousin said that she had given the bear to her daughter. The bear was not my mother’s property; it’s mine and it’s important to me. I don’t have it in me to demand the bear from a child, although I do want it back. But I feel like my cousin took advantage of the situation. How can I let my cousin know how I feel without causing a scene at the next family reunion?
—Missing the Bear