Mother in law problem

nicolehhhhhhhNovember 27, 2006

My mother in law lost her husband who was my wife's stepfather two years ago.They had moved from the same town we live to a different state 180 miles away 4 years before that due to a job change.My mother in law when she lived here never attended our kids sporting or school events which I always wondered about. Even though she has no relatives where she lives just some neighbors she gets along well with she has decided to stay in the house 180 miles away. The problem is that she is 67 years old but doesn't drive more than a couple miles from her house due to a fear of getting lost.So she expects my wife and my wifes sister to go pick her up for every holiday and drive her back even though my wife loses a days back from work to do it.I have suggested the Amtrak train which passes through her town and drops off near by but her sister thinks she is too good for that type of transportation.Is my mother in law being selfish or is it me being a jerk.

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Maybe she can't afford to take Amtrak. If that's the case, she may be embarrassed to say something (many seniors live on a very limited income). Maybe you and your wife, along with her sister, can pay for the train ticket for your mother-in-law. I would discuss a few options with your wife and then let her speak to her mother. 180 miles round trip is 360 miles. And that's just the pick-up. Then there's the 360 miles round trip to bring her home. You're talking 720 miles. That's an awful lot of traveling. You mention that your wifes sister thinks the mother is "too good for that type of transportation". If that is indeed the case, let your sister-in-law know that she will be the one doing the driving from this point on.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2006 at 2:00PM
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She was left a very nice sum of money. The house she lives in has 6 bedrooms and 4 1/2 bathrooms which I also wonder why she wants to stay in a house that big for one person.My wife refuses to stand up to her sister or mother and she doesn't understand that there is more to putting on that many miles on a van besides the cost of gas.This has caused so much trouble I almost wish my mother in law would get sick or die.She is so selfish that when they pick her up and other times when they just go to visit she makes them take her back towards where we live 80 miles to go to the casino so she can gamble since she has no way of getting there on her own.Everything is for her and I can't say anything to my wife since she feels sorry for her since her husband died. But I also feel she is part of the reason he died since he commuted back and forth from where we live since he found a job back here. He would drive back home to where she was at every weekend and then on Saturday morning she made him drive back to this casino and then back to drop her off Sunday night and then he would drive back 180 miles to his job on Monday morning.He died of a heart attack at age 56.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2006 at 2:25PM
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People can only take advantage of you if you let them.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2006 at 3:26PM
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She needs to take the train. Expecting someone to drive that much, and to take off work to do it, for every holiday is just too much. They are being taken advantage of. No one is "too good" for train transportation. And, if they think they are too good for it, it shows their "lack of class" IMHO.

I would think she would be worried about her daughters being alone and driving on the road for that long.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2006 at 3:33PM
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cara35 , I couldn't agree more about the driving since the area they have to drive thru is always a mess and not a great area,even though it is on the interstate.Also I forgot to note my wife went thru colon cancer a year and a half ago and even though she was going thru chemo my wife still felt obligated to do this.Our marriage has soured thru this whole process and doesn't look good for the future.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2006 at 3:43PM
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From your posts, it seems to me your MIL and SIL are being totally unreasonable. Maybe its time somebody explained it to them. Maybe its up to you to bring some backbone (and rationality) to the situation since your wife seems unable to deal with it.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2006 at 5:00PM
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Yes, I agree with Asolo, its time for you to show some leadership, for the sake of your wife. Your situation is like a rudderless boat, stick the rudder back on and get steering. (does this even make sense !)

My mother was the same, she wouldnt go on trains, I live 100kms from her place, I had small children, family to run. I felt guilty but, I had to put my family first.

Phone calls are good.

Don't take on her problems, they are her problems, and she should deal with them. Gee, she is only 67 ! She has years ahead of her. She can learn to look after herself.

Sit down and work out your priorities. Your family is your priority, your wife should not have to drive all that way. Its totally unreasonable.

Let us know what you decide to do.


    Bookmark   November 28, 2006 at 2:19AM
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Don't know if I can really tell you what to do--that's an individual choice. However, as someone who is the caregiver for 2 elderly people, there are a few comments I'd like to make here.

When folks reach that age, their world becomes very small. It's not even truly selfishness--they don't realize that they aren't thinking about anyone else. From what I've seen of my friends and relatives, it's an almost universal problem that the older folks don't see anyone else's problems but their own (Monday, I got in, looked at the caller ID, saw my 83 year old aunt had called. Called her--said "Hello"; she said, "Where have you been, I called you 3 times"; me--"at the ER, I was really sick"; Her, "I want you to take me to the dr's tomorrow..." It didn't even register with her that I'd been in the hospital).

You, your wife and your SIL need to realize that whatever MIL's condition is today--it's probably as good as it's ever going to be. Whatever her needs are now, they're going to become greater with time. Gradually, you will need to do more and more for her--and there's no way around that, unless you want to be cold, heartless and toss her out in the street.

As regards to her staying in her home--at that age, people are really afraid of change. They don't want to leave their familiar surroundings, the ones where their memories reside. Sometimes that's not the best for them. It does seem that it's time for the family to consider what's best for mom. If she's living that far from everyone, who's keeping an eye on her health? who's going with her to her dr's appts? who's double-checking to see that she's handling her finances appropriately? Not saying it's time to move her into a nursing home down the street from you, but it might be getting near the time when you have to encourage her to move to a local senior apt (check into the waiting lists on those, though, they're often years long. Never hurts to get one's name on early, even if they're not yet ready to move in).

One thing I've got a little question about--you say MIL won't drive far, for fear of getting lost? Has she always been this way? or is this something new? If it's a new wrinkle, then it's a huge red flag. Most older folks who are beginning to lose their abilities (through Alzhemer's or other types of dementia, or strokes, etc) cover that up. And any little admission they make like that is generally a tip-of-the-iceberg kind of thing. It means they've been having much greater problems, but that's all they'll admit to. If this were my mother or MIL, I'd be quite concerned and want to keep an eye on her--just to make sure things are okay.

Look, I know this is annoying for you. But look at it this way. One day you're going to be old. You may not be living near your children. You will definitely want to see them at the holidays--and other times of the year. Just how would you feel if the kids told you you were just too much trouble for them? or if your SIL told you he wished you were dead (and even if it's not said out loud, make no mistake, MIL KNOWS how you feel).

Sorry, while I can understand the family problem, and know there are many ways to solve it or compromise, I'm having a little problem with your "I almost wish she would die" attitude. That's lacks a bit of humanity, don't you think?

    Bookmark   November 29, 2006 at 9:22AM
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I wanted to add, that yes, 360 miles each way is a lot for a one-day holiday visit.

However, why can't one sister drive up the weekend before the holiday, bring mom down for a nice weeklong visit, and the other take her home the weekend after the holiday? That wouldn't be bad at all, now would it? And there's an added benefit--during those visits, mom could be getting a little more used to the area where you live--the shopping the activities, etc. And maybe, down the road, when it is time for her to move, it won't be so hard for her. Give it some thought--there are solutions to your problem that are workable and compassionate.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2006 at 10:19AM
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I always work on the premise that I treat others as I would like to be treated.

One day, you too will be old.... how do you want to be treated?

    Bookmark   November 29, 2006 at 3:05PM
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western: 67 years of age is not old. If she were 80, that would be another story. I know many people many years older than she is that drive to other states alone to visit friends or family. But for this mother to EVEN ASK her daughters to do such a thing, shows her lack of caring or consideration for her daughters...especially a daughter who was going through chemo, and still expected to indulge the whims of her mother. Perhaps the mother should think long and hard about "The Golden Rule" herself. She sounds manipulative and self centered to me, and her daughters have yet to understand that they can show their mother love, caring, and respect, and still say no to indulging such whims. It sounds as though they are "still" trying to "earn" mommies love and approval. How sad.

This woman has the "means" and she could take a luxury coach bus ride, Amtrac, or ask, or pay a friend to drive her. Or she could stay home, and they could have a lovely, long telephone chat.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2006 at 2:37PM
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You almost wish your MIL gets sick or dies and your marriage is souring? Hmmmm... go figure.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2006 at 11:26PM
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