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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Ask brother why he avoids aging parents

Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar The Spokesman-Review

Dear Annie: My dad is 87 years old, and Mom is 79. One of my brothers, “Dylan,” has not been home in almost 12 years. He and his wife have no children, and we are his wife’s only family. You’d think she’d be close, but no. At one point, she told my parents that she doesn’t understand why they keep pressuring them to visit, since they can’t get away. We all know better. She doesn’t work, and Dylan has been with the same company for 20 years, so you know darn well he gets some vacation time. They even missed my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary party.

We used to be a very close family. Now, we wonder if Dylan will bother to come to the funeral when our parents pass away. Probably not.

Is there anything we can do to get Dylan to come home? My dad especially misses him. We thought about purchasing a plane ticket for him, but Dylan told us they are afraid to fly and he won’t use it. Any advice? – Estranged Sister

Dear Estranged: Airplanes aren’t the only means of transportation. If Dylan wanted to see his family, he would find a way. We don’t know why he avoids coming home, but sometimes, the longer one is away, the harder it is to make the trip. You can ask Dylan directly why, in 12 years, he hasn’t tried to see his aging parents, with or without his wife. You also might make a trip to his area on your own, to see for yourself what is going on and help break the ice.

Dear Annie: I have a problem with my husband. He goes to the garage to work on things from sunup to sundown. He builds one thing, and as soon as he is finished, he immediately starts another project. He says it’s what he likes to do.

If we do go somewhere, he talks only about his projects to me and everyone else. There isn’t one day he doesn’t open up the garage to do something. I feel like he’s forgotten about me. Maybe he’s lost his mind. He doesn’t believe in counseling, so I don’t know what to do. What do you suggest? – Garage Widow

Dear Garage Widow: It’s possible, if your husband has always been like this, that he has an obsessive disorder. But it’s more likely that such complete devotion to his projects, to the exclusion of everything else, indicates avoidance. There’s something your husband doesn’t want to deal with, and burying his head in the garage allows him to pretend everything is OK. You can ask, gently, how to help with what is troubling him, or you can leave him be. Either he will come to a decision about the situation – or you will. If you think counseling will help you work through it, by all means, go without him.

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