Dear Annie: My father died suddenly of complications following surgery. We are all very upset, but my mother is suffering most of all. She and Dad did everything together. They were best friends and never wavered in their love for each other throughout their 42 years.
I have one sibling, a 36-year-old brother who is an alcoholic and recovering heroin addict. He is on methadone. While Dad was in the hospital, my brother and I had a terrible fight. I can honestly say he started it. He is bipolar and not taking his medication and flies off the handle at the drop of a hat.
Today, my brother asked Mom if he could move back in with her. He says he’ll live in a camper in her yard, even though he’ll have no running water or other basic necessities. I object to this because he is not going to make Mom’s life easier.
He will disrupt things just like he did when he was younger. My mom’s television would not be hers, her kitchen would not stay clean, and she’d have more laundry and headaches to deal with.
Am I wrong to object? Dad would not allow my brother to live there and I think Mom should honor Dad’s intentions. I’m looking like the bad guy here. — Trying to Protect Mom
Dear Trying: You are right to be worried, but ultimately, this is not your decision to make. Although he may indeed become a burden, your brother also is company at a time when Mom is lonely and vulnerable to his request to move in.
Discuss your concerns lovingly with your mother, and see if she is fearful of your brother and needs your help to keep him away. If not, you will have to let her make up her own mind and try to accept the result graciously. (And please resist the urge to say “I told you so” when things go south. She’ll need your support.)
Dear Annie: I’ve been married for 29 years and my husband is an alcoholic. His company went out of business five years ago. After three years of being unemployed, he got a menial job but quit after two months. At his next job, he called in sick so often, the boss told him he was on probation. So he quit.
Now he sits on the couch all day and night staring at the TV. He will occasionally wash a load of laundry but otherwise does nothing around the house. He does not help pay any bills. He will not go to the doctor. I’ve made appointments and he cancels them. He tried counseling a few years ago but decided he was smarter than they were and stopped. He absolutely refuses to look for a job.
My family and friends wonder why I don’t leave him. The answer is, I think he would end his life and I couldn’t live with the guilt. But I fear by not doing anything I’m somehow making it worse. He is not a danger to himself or anyone else — he is just existing. I need to know what to do. — Need Help
Dear Need Help: You are not responsible for what your husband chooses to do with his life. However, we understand your fear that he may not survive and we can tell that you still care about him. Your husband sounds severely depressed — which is not uncommon with alcoholics, who often use liquor to self-medicate. Keep encouraging him to talk to his doctor, and also contact Al-Anon (al-anon.alateen.org) at 1-888-4-AL-ANON (1-888-425-2666) and ask for help.
Dear Annie: You’ve printed a lot of letters from older people who seem to have a hard time finding relationships. Someone should develop a dating Web site for people 50 and above. Of course, you have to be careful, but I know there is someone out there for almost everyone. My son met a great gal online.
Why can’t there be a dating site specifically for the over-50 crowd that is monitored and safe? I don’t have the expertise to accomplish this, but I’m sure someone does. Our senior citizens deserve to find love. — Compassionate for Their Plea in Louisiana
Dear Louisiana: Actually, there are such sites and we’ll recommend one: SeniorFriendFinder.com.
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to email@example.com, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611. To find out more about Annie’s Mailbox, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
Published in The Messenger 3.25.08