Dear Annie: Ten years ago, my father passed away, leaving my mother well provided for. Since then, she has spent nearly 80 percent of the estate on herself, my brother and his children.
My brother is her favorite child. He has had an up-and-down career. When times are good, he spends a lot of money. When times are bad, he runs to Mom. In the past two years, he has steadily taken money from her, and her assets are now frighteningly low.
I put myself through college, lived beneath my means and have saved a great deal. Mom is now eyeing what I have put aside, expecting me to use it to support her, as well as the “golden child” and the now-adult grandchildren. This has brought up old ill feelings of the way she treated us on our birthdays and holidays.
Part of me wants to provide for my mother’s needs, as I feel it is my duty. But another part wants to tell her to find support from the son she always indulged. I really can’t talk to anybody about this without feeling terrible. Can you help?
Dear N.: We don’t blame you for having mixed feelings. Your mother has not treated you fairly. Still, it is a kindness to help her once her assets run out. You obviously are not under any obligation to support your brother or his grown children.
We suggest you speak with an accountant about setting up a budget and a monthly allowance for Mom, letting her know that once that money is used up, there will be no additional funds until the following month. This allows you to fulfill your filial obligations without so much resentment.
Dear Annie: My husband was diagnosed with cancer three weeks ago. We have spent those weeks seeing various doctors and having multiple tests. With chemotherapy and surgery, he should be able to live a long and happy life.
My problem is family members and friends. I am trying to keep my husband in a positive frame of mind about his prognosis. Unfortunately, these well-meaning people keep telling him horror stories about chemotherapy and radiation and all of the people they know who have died from cancer.
Everyone’s cancer is different. What works for some patients might not work for others. Please do not tell my husband about someone who died of cancer. It’s not what he needs to hear right now. I know you mean well, but this just depresses him.
Attitude is everything when it comes to treating and surviving cancer. Say something positive like, “Our thoughts and prayers are with you,” or “You will survive this. You’re tough.” Otherwise, don’t say anything about it at all. Just be his friend. With the advances in treatment, I know more people who have survived cancer than have died. These survivors all have one thing in common: a positive attitude.
-- Polly Positive
Dear Polly: We, too, have never understood the urge that compels people to tell horror stories about those who have died to those who are still struggling with illness of any kind. Attitude is so important in healing. Please, folks, keep a lid on those stories. They help no one.
Dear Annie: I read the letter from “Depressed in Hiding,” the 16-year-old high school girl who is depressed and anxious and has resorted to self-harm. She is afraid to tell her parents because she believes they will hate her.
When I was in college and living far away from home, I was unhappy. I realize now that I was depressed. I wrote to my mother and told her how unhappy I was. Her response was, “Tough toenail.” So I knew never to trust her again with anything personal or close to my heart.
Almost 40 years later, my husband died. In my grief, I confided some things to her (by mistake) and received a similar answer. There are some people you simply can never trust with your feelings.
-- Caroline in Carolina
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