Dear Annie: I was a live-in caregiver for my elderly parents for more than 10 years. I spent many sleepless nights by their bedsides and had no life of my own. My sacrifice enabled my siblings to pursue lucrative careers, build retirements, purchase beautiful homes and travel the world. Furthermore, because my parents did not need to go into a retirement home, my siblings received a substantial inheritance.
When my parents passed away, my siblings demanded that I move because they wanted to sell the house. They screamed verbal abuse at me when my sister did not get her hands on Mother’s dining room set. The door to my room was kicked in, my belongings were picked through, and Mother’s property was taken. They got a court order to look into my bank account. In the dead of winter, while I was in the process of moving, they changed all the locks on my parents’ home, without informing me or giving me a key. My sister lied that I had stolen Mother’s china and other valuables, when those items were later found in that sister’s home.
My siblings caused me so much grief and distress that I had to be treated for clinical depression. I have now moved to a beautiful area 500 miles away and am happy. I haven’t forgotten the outrageous hurt, nor do I trust my siblings. However, they are sending me e-mails and letters, acting as if nothing happened and asking to visit. I actually get sick when I receive their messages and have not replied. I no longer want to associate with them. How can I gracefully, but firmly, make sure they don’t visit? – No Good Deed Goes Unpunished
Dear Good Deed: It’s possible your siblings were guilt-ridden when Mom died, behaved abysmally and are trying to reconnect. But frankly, they sound like a pack of vultures. If they show up on your doorstep, you do not have to invite them in. Simply say, politely, sorry, but you are not entertaining visitors.
Dear Annie: As far as I know, there wasn’t any physical abuse in my husband’s childhood, but there was a large dose of neglect. But really, Annie, what parent doesn’t struggle with time when there are four kids and a full-time job?
My mother-in-law used to visit our children on their birthdays, but this year, she sent a present by mail. I think she feels unwanted. How can I bridge this gap? – Wishing My Boys Had Two Grandmas
Dear Wishing: You are a special daughter-in-law to want this for your husband and your children. If your husband is maintaining an estrangement because of childhood issues, it would be good for his emotional health to clear them up. Ask him to talk to a counselor. Explain that his attitude affects your entire family and is unfair to your sons.