Ask Amy

Dear Amy: My three sib­lings and I are in our 60s. Our 91-year-old mother lives alone sev­eral hours away. She has an ac­tive so­cial life and keeps her house and her­self up well. When­ever we bring up

The Denver Post - - FEATURES - by Amy Dick­inson

the sub­ject of her mov­ing closer to civ­i­liza­tion, she gets ex­tremely angry. She lives in a tiny vil­lage about 35 miles from the near­est town where there are doc­tors, a hospi­tal, gro­cery stores, etc.

Our mother in­sists that we all must visit more of­ten than we do. I live about six hours away and visit six times a year, stay­ing two nights each time. I bring my vac­uum and clean house, plus do yard work.

I’m happy to help my mother, even though she is not an easy per­son to deal with. She has a sharp tongue and does not treat me well. Peo­ple who know her, like her, but they don’t spend much time with her.

My sib­lings visit once a year. They stay for 90 min­utes. I’m the only one who goes for Thanks­giv­ing, Christ­mas, her birth­day and Mother’s Day, plus a cou­ple extra times to take her to ap­point­ments.

This year I won’t be able to visit for the hol­i­days and won’t get there un­til spring. I have asked my sib­lings to help out, and they ab­so­lutely refuse. They are very up­set that I even brought it up. They say I am en­abling her by let­ting her stay in her own home. They think I should in­sist she move to a facility. I have sug­gested it to her, but she just about goes out of her mind. I will not drag my mother kick­ing and scream­ing out of her home. Any sug­ges­tions on how I can get every­body into one big happy fam­ily? — Du­ti­ful Daughter

Dear Du­ti­ful: The only sure­fire way to get every­body in your clan to be one big happy fam­ily would be for you to get a dif­fer­ent fam­ily.

As it is, your fam­ily is a lot like most oth­ers’. One con­se­quence of your mother’s per­son­al­ity and treat­ment of her chil­dren is how her chil­dren treat her now. You du­ti­fully show up more of­ten; your sib­lings pre­fer to pop in and leave as quickly as pos­si­ble.

You can­not force your mother to live dif­fer­ently, nor should you. If your sib­lings want your mother to move, then they should make their opin­ions known to her — not to you. If it is ob­vi­ous that they will never step up, then stop ex­pect­ing it.

The out­come down the road for your mother might be for her to per­haps in­jure her­self or be­come ill, land in a hospi­tal and tran­si­tion to an­other facility from there. If she likes be­ing at home and func­tions well there — then good for her! Tiny vil­lages can work quite well for peo­ple at all stages of life, as neigh­bors check in from time to time and tend to no­tice quickly if some­thing is awry.

Dear Amy: I re­cently at­tended a beau­ti­ful wed­ding. An in-law brought it to my at­ten­tion that my mon­e­tary gift was in­ad­e­quate to cover even my place at the wed­ding din­ner, let alone cock­tails, or a gift.

I am a widow liv­ing on So­cial Se­cu­rity. The groom was the son of my late-hus­band’s dis­tant cousin. I had to spend the night at a high-end ho­tel to at­tend the wed­ding.

I at­tended be­cause I was in­vited, and to see many of my late-hus­band’s relatives, whom I have not seen since his fu­neral two years ago.

How can I not only deal with my own guilt, but also the fact that some­one made me feel guilty for giv­ing an “in­ad­e­quate” wed­ding gift? — Up­set

Dear Up­set: You did noth­ing wrong. Your in-law was rude. There is no “rule” that a wed­ding guest must give a gift large enough to cover the wed­ding ex­penses. You should as­sume your young relatives were happy you ac­cepted their in­vi­ta­tion to wit­ness their wed­ding.

Dear Amy: Re­spond­ing to the ques­tion from “My Own Name,” re­gard­ing her hus­band’s hos­til­ity that she wants to use her “maiden” name: How would men re­act if they were ex­pected to au­to­mat­i­cally sur­ren­der their names upon mar­riage? Fur­ther­more, if a man gets mar­ried eight times he is still John Smith. If a woman gets mar­ried eight times, she is ex­pected to have eight dif­fer­ent names. It is time to let go of those old prac­tices that make a woman feel like a man’s pos­ses­sion, rather than his part­ner. — Pro­gres­sive

Dear Pro­gres­sive: I agree. But this cul­tural change will take time.

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