Dear Annie: Just a word to alert people to something that must be very common: greed in families. My dad has been crippled for many years. I have lived with him and taken care of him ever since the accident, after which he could no longer drive. My sister has basically ignored him except on Thanksgiving and Christmas, when her family usually gets thousands of dollars from him.
We live in the same town, but I don't recall a single time when they invited him to go along on a trip to a shopping center — or anywhere, for that matter. Twice, they tried to get him to buy them a new house. The last time, he was to sell everything he had and buy them the new house — but not be allowed to live in it. I will not say where they were going to put him, except a lawyer I know called it barbaric. I am sure that would have lasted only until the Medicare look-back period elapsed and then they would have moved him into a facility.
Dad was too smart to fall for that; I did not have to say a word. Nephews and nieces — they showed up when checks were being handed out, but when the checks stopped, so did they. There is a lot more that I have held in for years, but the point is that I definitely do not feel part of that family, and now that my dad's time and mine are growing close, my will states that what I leave behind (a not-inconsiderable amount) will go to hospitals for children. I feel no obligation to my sister or other relatives. It would be far too late to change things now, nor do I want to. I just do not have the energy, and Dad is too incapacitated to do much of anything.
I know they are expecting a shower of money and will be greatly surprised. The point is that you should treat people as you would like to be treated yourself, or at the end, you may just get exactly what you have earned. Would you advise any differently? — Disillusioned
Dear Disillusioned: It's wonderful that your dad could rely on you all these years. You should be grateful for the special bond you two have shared for so long. Let that gratitude occupy way more space in your heart than the resentment toward your siblings does. You will feel lighter.
Dear Annie: My niece lived with a partner who had wonderful small children. They were together for over four years, and our family came to love them all very much. When they broke up, she was not allowed by her ex to see the children or have any contact with them. Those children called her Mama, and we considered them family.
I know the breakup was bitter, and there were problems caused by both adults in the relationship. I just think about those kids all the time and how they must wonder what happened to their "cousins," "aunts," "uncles" and "grandparents" who included them in fun, baby-sat them and gave them love and affection. I know that the biological parent makes the decisions, but I worry about the long-term effects to these kids. — Heartsick
Dear Heartsick: Sadly, most breakups mean saying goodbye not just to a partner but also to parents, siblings, friends and more. That there were children involved here makes it even more heartbreaking. I hope the ex fully considered the effects on them and is helping them adjust. It's unfortunate, but you're right that neither you nor your niece has grounds to contact them at this point. Perhaps once the children turn 18, you could reach out and see how they're doing.
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