Dear Annie: I am 41 years old, the youngest of three daughters. I am also the only caretaker for our parents and am growing increasingly frustrated by the lack of assistance from my sisters. I cook, clean, do repairs, handle bills and cover all the transportation.
I am underemployed, unmarried and uninvolved in any activity beyond the care of my 80-year-old parents. I contribute 100 percent of my income to keep us afloat, but we are having a hard time. I have no retirement and no savings. A recent illness put me out of work for several months, and my mother had to beg for a loan of $500 from each sister. I am still paying these loans back.
My sisters are married and financially well off. One lives three hours away, and the other six. Neither makes an effort to keep updated on my parents, and they never visit unless I put out a big spread of food. They know my parents have a lot of debt, but their solutions are for me to find some magical government assistance program. Unfortunately, they are above the income levels for that kind of help.
My sisters say if they help our parents, they will be supporting me, as well, and they tell me to get a full-time job. But that means no one will care for Mom and Dad. How can I make them see I am doing all I can, but they need to do their share? — Taking Care of Everything in Iowa
Dear Iowa: Your sisters sound oblivious to the amount of care your parents require and unwilling to step up. Nonetheless, it helps no one for you to put your life on hold as a caregiver when all of you are drowning in debt. Call the Eldercare Locator (eldercare.gov) at 1-800-677-1116 to find out what resources are available in your area. Also check with faith-based social service agencies, as well as county and state social service agencies. And frankly, as your parents require more care, they should look into selling their home and moving into an assisted living residence.
Meanwhile, ask your siblings whether they would hire a full-time caregiver if you agreed to find a full-time job.
Dear Annie: After reading another complaint about thank-you notes, I'm wondering whether you should do a poll to find out how the majority of people feel.
I give gifts because it gives me pleasure. I don't expect a handwritten thank-you note. A quick "thank you" in person, a text, an email or even a Facebook message works just fine.
I always acknowledge and show my appreciation for the gifts I receive, but I never write thank-you notes. If anyone is upset because they don't get one, I prefer they stop giving me gifts. A gift is like unconditional love. You don't give it expecting something in return. — S.
Dear S.: But, honey, you ARE writing thank-you notes. You simply aren't doing them in the traditional way. The point of a thank-you note is to (a) acknowledge that a gift was received, and (b) thank the giver. While some people are adamant about handwritten notes, most folks would be happy to receive a text, email or Facebook message. Those who refuse to let someone know their gift was received and appreciated — in any format — are simply inconsiderate.
Dear Annie: This is about "Free but Confused," whose father has disowned him now that he's come out.
When my son was 35, he revealed to us that he is gay. I became upset and depressed. I went to counseling and read books, but couldn't understand why I felt so miserable. I never had any prejudice toward gay people. Finally, one friend said, "You thought you knew him." That was it. And that knowledge is what helped me. — A Mother
This Classic Annie's Mailbox column was originally published in 2014. To find out more about Classic Annie's Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit Creators Syndicate at www.creators.com.