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Sat, July 20

Dear Abby | Matriarch uses inheritance to keep her family in line

Dear Abby: For the last 12 years, we have been traveling 7 1/2 hours to see my husband’s grandparents. This happens several times a year. Each time I pray it will be the last visit.

Invariably, when we return home, I am sick for about a week, and it’s getting worse. At 96, Grandma isn’t cleaning the house (Grandpa died four years ago). She lives on her own in the country. Grandma has fallen, can’t cook for herself and still drives. The closest family member lives seven hours away.

Grandma has always been a manipulator, and I’m tired of how she treats her family. She uses the “financial inheritance” for leverage. My family has things planned out in advance about what to do when someone has reached a certain age.

I’m tired of subjecting myself to this, let alone facing Grandma’s wrath. The rest of the family accepts it for what it is. They don’t want to upset her, so they give in and accommodate. Do I have the right to back out? – Wants to Run Away

Dear Wants: Before backing out, may I recommend that you and your husband discuss this with all of the relatives involved? It seems to me that a group intervention for Granny may be in order.

Rather than pray for her demise, ask yourself, “If she’s not cleaning and cooking, how IS she taking care of herself?”

Contact the senior center nearest to where this poor woman lives, or the closest Area Agency on Aging and ask what can be done to help her. If not you, then your husband’s parents, aunts and uncles should do this. Ignoring her condition could be considered elder abuse.

Dear Abby: When my father died, my mother and I hosted a post-memorial get-together at her home. Each of my parents’ many friends and acquaintances brought a casserole. Mom’s refrigerator was always full, so there was no room after the seventh casserole. My mother told me to take the rest to the basement and say it was put in the freezer. My parents never owned a freezer, so after everyone left, we put 17 casseroles down the garbage disposal.

A restaurant gift card accomplishes the same thing. – Enough is too Much

Dear Enough: If this happens to other readers, it would not be ungracious to be honest. Explain there is no more room in the fridge or freezer and suggest the food be taken with the mourners when they leave.

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