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Dear Abby: For the last 12 years, we have been traveling 7½ 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. If she has enough money that she’s successfully holding it over everyone’s heads, she has enough to hire someone to clean her house for her on a weekly or monthly basis. 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: I have never seen this issue discussed anywhere but cannot believe I’m the only person who is dismayed by the tradition of bringing casseroles to the homes of the bereaved. 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.
Please make your readers aware that post-funeral food is often inconvenient even if the thought is appreciated. A restaurant gift card accomplishes the same thing and assures the family will end up with something they actually like.
Enough Is Too Much
Dear Enough: That the love, effort and expense your parents’ friends went to ended up down the drain is a shame. I am printing your letter because your suggestion makes sense and readers may appreciate it. 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.