Posted: Monday, August 9, 2010 8:02 pm
Dear Annie: My sister, “Elaine,” has terminal cancer. Yesterday, I got a call from someone named “Laura” telling me Elaine had made arrangements to move in with a family from her church. I offered to let her come here and even said she could bring her elderly dog so they could spend her final months together. I did this even though I am allergic to dogs. However, I was told she only wanted me to take the dog.
This morning, I visited Elaine, who did not appear to be as bad as I had been led to believe. Laura, a member of my sister’s church, was with her. I repeated my offer to take both Elaine and the dog, but was told emphatically that she was staying with a church family.
I am concerned that the “church” has an ulterior motive. I asked for information from hospice about Elaine’s care, but no one has gotten back to me and it’s been nearly a week. What should I do? Elaine is an adult and competent. — Sister in Waiting
Dear Sister: Even if Laura’s motives are to get Elaine’s money for the church, there’s not much you can do if your sister is competent to make these decisions. Can you talk to Elaine directly? If not and if she is under hospice care, someone from that organization should be visiting regularly, and you can direct your questions to them in person. If Laura is the only one caring for your sister, contact your local Area Agency on Aging or the Eldercare Locator (www.eldercare.gov) at 1-800-677-1116 and ask for assistance.
Dear Annie: I am a 15-year-old girl who lives in the middle of nowhere. My 8-year-old brother, “Andrew,” is autistic, and I am the only person he connects with. Because of this, my mother often gives me responsibility for Andrew. I feel like I have to grow up quickly so I can take care of him.
Is my mom pushing him off on me, or am I being selfish because I want a life? — Confused in the Country
Dear Confused: Neither. Your mother recognizes that Andrew responds best to you, so she relies on you for his care. But you also are entitled to be 15. That means compromise. Discuss this calmly with Mom, and ask for more time without Andrew. If your school has a counselor, you can use that person as a source of support, along with any adult relative or friend who can intercede on your behalf. You also can find support groups on the Internet and through the Autism Society of America (autism-society.org), which has a section on Family Issues that includes siblings of those with autism. Good luck.
Dear Annie: Like “Observer,” I have noticed that many young married couples have chosen to cut off grandparents. In my case, this was not a lightly chosen step.
Both my husband and I come from broken homes. In the first year of our son’s life, we made huge efforts to allow our parents into our lives. But my mother associates with a drug-addicted boyfriend and insists on bringing him when she visits.
My mother-in-law has a history of involving the police when she gets into any argument she can’t win. We decided it was better not to have these toxic parents in our child’s life than to spend every moment protecting him.
We know one day our son will ask questions about his grandparents. Meanwhile, we found foster grandparents and connected with many loving relatives. I hope one day our son will know that at the cost of his past, his father and I have given him a loving and supportive future. — Parentless Parent
Dear Parent: We understand when grandparents are problematic and visits must be limited or supervised, but we hope you can still maintain some form of contact, even if it is just a photograph once a year. You never know what the future will bring.
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 5777 W. Century Blvd., Ste. 700, Los Angeles, CA 90045. 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 8.9.10