Right at this moment, I am seething.

Those who know me well know that my mother is 85, in not the best of health and her memory is going. Over the years, she has done far more than should be expected of any one parent to do in helping out and caring for an extended family that includes many grandkids and great grandkids.

Some of these grandkids have lived with her over the years when my (step) sister was unable or unwilling to support them. In many cases, she stuck by them when anyone else would have simply kicked them to the curb, as their mother had done (though no fault of their own, I might add) My sister had no parenting and didn’t know how to parent, as a result). In fact, she was the mother that their mother never was. She housed and fed them and financially supported them.

While a couple of them keep in regular contact even coming over to help us with chores and to socialize, others just don’t bother to pick up the phone and call.

So, I sent a Facebook message out to remind everyone that Mom isn’t getting any younger and that they might take the time to call, especially as she has been sick these last three weeks.

The only one who responded was the one I knew would respond, and in the manner in which I expected… She essentially blamed us for not being in when she calls…. She doesn’t leave a message  (which doesn’t help me think she actually DOES call) and whenever my mother calls her, she tells her she’s at work and not to call her at work. The is fact that I have been working at home (aside from the 5 days “holidays” I took to be home with Mom)  and Mom has been sick on the couch next to the phone for the last three weeks and neither of us has heard from her.

The fact that Mom has been sick for three weeks received no comment, not even “I hope she feels better….” Not one of the times on Facebook that I have said she is sick has gotten so much as a “gee sorry to hear that” from her or any of the other relations. Since none of them has bothered to give me their phone numbers, Facebook is my only way of contacting them.

Then I get a curt private message telling me that she has been working 12-16 hour shifts and “only has two days off” a week…. Again, no concern about Mom.

Last year at this time, I had to take Mom in to declare bankruptcy because she was tens of thousands of dollars in debt (she had no idea how much money she actually owed!), a good part of it because of helping out this same niece after an accident with the “promise” that she would receive money from the insurance settlement. Of course, she has received little bits of money from time to time but nothing near the amount she spent (including all her retirement savings) over the years ensuring that my niece and her kids had shoes on their feet and a roof over their head. Luckily, my mother has a reasonably good pension, otherwise she could have been out on the streets. It isn’t enough to provide her with the life she SHOULD have or the life she deserves at this point in her life, but 0nce the bankruptcy is discharged, we won’t have to worry about her living in a homeless shelter.

Strangely enough, before I told her that if she ever asked Mom for a single dollar more, I would put a restraining order on her, this niece called every day (often followed by a request for money). From then on, she has been “too busy” to call…

My nephew’s ex wife has made it impossible for my Mom to see his son and daughter (she has also managed to have a no visitation order for my nephew so he can’t ever see his children, either) and my Mom has now given up hope that she will see them before she dies.

It makes me angrier than I can say the someone whose whole life has been her family is either ignored by her family or has the right to see her family taken from her.

For those who are perfectly capable of picking up the phone but are “too busy” I guess this mantra will be some comfort when Mom is dead.



  1. zeusiswatching said,

    August 28, 2009 at 12:24 am

    HMH is very right. This is a common situation and how we deal with it is a measure of our inner strength, which understandably wanes under the weight of these instances.

    We too are having to come together for a family member in dire straits right now. This is tough work for a family spread over a continent (with the usual personality conflicts too) but we need to do this. For those relatives that can’t or won’t get involved for whatever reason…well the rest of us will one day come to their aid too. We just will.

    • mudhooks said,

      August 28, 2009 at 1:24 am

      Sadly, this niece has cried wolf, herself so often that those of us who have helped in the past just won’t. Her kids, yes…. And the one person who would ALWAYS help her out no matter if it was that her kids needed new shoes or her dog needed braces — no matter how serious or how frivolous the reason, is now not able to help her.

      Same goes with my brother. When he starts trying to hit up friends of ours, it is just too much.

      He is 40-odd years old… time to get your life together.

      At least when the Nan-tree (as in money tree named for Nan) stopped bearing fruit, my niece went out and got herself a job and is caring for her family. Although he IS working, it is time for my brother to do the same.

      • mudhooks said,

        August 28, 2009 at 1:29 am

        At least it wasn’t as bad as the relative of a friend of mine who had been close to my friend’s aunt and uncle. Suddenly, the aunt and uncle moved out of town and my friend’s father went over to see how she was doing. It was then that he discovered that his sister and brother-in-law (a cop, no less) had finagled her into signing Power of Attorney to them and had drained her of every penny of her savings and mortgaged her house (twice).

        They hadn’t even left her any food in the fridge when they left. Since they left no paper trail, there wasn’t much anyone could do.

        They had started going on all these vacations all over the world on her money and hadn’t even taken her along.

        Now their children are blaming my friend’s parents for the rift between my friend’s father and her sister. They refuse to believe that their parents would have done such a thing.

  2. azahar said,

    August 26, 2009 at 1:04 am

    As hmh says, it’s all too common.

    And all too familiar.

    When I told my brother I had cancer he said that was a shame and then said that he had to go walk his dogs. Haven’t heard from him since. And they haven’t sent me one dime all the time I’ve been off work.

    You may have a right to be angry but take it from me, it’s much much better to just let it go. Let them go. They aren’t worth it.

  3. August 25, 2009 at 2:32 am

    Deep breaths, dear, deep breaths. You have every right to be angry. Sounds like you are coping with a great deal of stress without any support from the people who should be helping.

    I know it is not much consolation, but this scenario is far more common than you would think.

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