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Both of my parents are alive. They have lived all of their retirement years in a house owned by my Wife and I, on the water. They have lived off of military retirment, Social Security and what the water bares them in the form of seafood. It all sounds wonderful, doesn't it?

Too bad life isn't as simple as all of that for us. It has been a long road getting to this point, and it seems it will still be a long road ahead. My Parents landed in our home because we were able and willing to help them. Prior to that, they had been living well, but went bankrupt during one of the real estate collapses. They had borrowed money from us and at least one other sibling, trying to keep afloat until things improved...but they didn't improve, as is evident by the term 'bankrupt'.

After the bankrupcy, between the two of them, my Parents progressed into repeated money management issues, creating more and more debt, often for pleasure purchases. They also progressed into increasing levels of hoarding, from 'someday' projects to 'someday we might need this'. Years ago, it had gotten to the point that we couldn't walk through the wrap-around porch of our house, and sleeping in the guest bedroom was risky, as those piles glared down at you. Never mind the garage and the shed!

August 27, 2011, Hurricane Irene pays a visit. The house is destroyed, along with over 1/2 of the contents. My Parents are losing 'everything' again. To us, much of what was lost was junk they hoarded over the years. To them, well...it's what they have left. We cleaned up and prepared the house to be removed. Cleanup was fun. My Dad was reluctant to let things go, even if it was under water. he knew that the sewage was right there with it.

My Mom couldn't help, as she is all but disabled. She is extremely overweight and has bad knees. She can only get around with a walker for a short time...and is falling constantly. Add to that she has Diabetes, Asthma, slurred speech and is having seizures that the Doctors can't seem to identify the cause for. Recently she was told anxiety. Probably the case, in my opinion. She's already on every pill under the sun, though, including anxiety meds and anti-depresents.

My Wife and I have begun rebuilding our house. In fact, we had planned to build our retirement home here some years down the road, so we are doing it now. The house is bigger. We designed it to have the same number of bedrooms, but a wide-open floor plan and a handicap-accessible bathroom with a 5'x5' shower you can walk into with a walker, wheelchair or scooter. We included a ramp out the back door to the garage, as well.

You have a pretty good picture of the foreground and a few pieces of the background. i need to fill in the background a little more:

My Dad is ex-military. He was very strict and hot-tempered as we were growing up. He is still hot-tempered. He reflects an attitude that says 'somebody owes me', and he projects it onto at least most of my four siblings and I. He has never used the words 'I'm Sorry', at least not in my presence. I've seldomly even heard 'Thank You'. Finally, nothing is ever a good idea unless he came up with it.

He complains about everything...but to friends and neighbors. Unless we bring it up, he says nothing of his complaints. If we bring it up...it becomes and argument, then escalates.

My Mom is relatively passive. Her thing our entire lives was to keep the peace, no matter what (This is probably a good time to admit that I have been alot like my Mother over the years, though I do have some of my Father's stubborness!). She has sat with me and told me many that this is what she does. After a heated argument with my Father a couple days ago she told me she acknowledges the fact that my Father has never thought before he spoke. She learned to just let it go and ignore him. Most of us kids learned the same. However, I can't expect my Wife, our nieghbors and friends to do the same.

I think the main source of frustration for my Mother over recent years is been the fact that her increasing physical limitations make it difficult to impossible to 'keep the peace'. I believe that the physical limitations along with all of these years of looking at the piles of 'stuff' she helped create have greatly contributed to her excessive obeisity and depressive state. I sometimes feel like she's just waiting to die. She is only 75 years old. She should be enjoying her retirement!

After one more heated argument, we are now faced with a decision of possibly not letting my parents move into our house once it's built. This wil be the 2nd time we've arrived here in the past few months. I never wanted my Parent's lives to end this way, yet I don't see any way around it. I'm afraid that when my Mother dies, I'm not going to be able to forgive my Father for the way he treated her. Add to that, none of the kids are willing to accept responsibility for my Father when she does.

So, Now what?

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Better yet, Mayasbop, please don't respond, you've just made it more frustrating for me. You must have come to this site to spy on your own children, because you are certainly lashing out like a disgruntled 'aging elder'.
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Highlight away, because I firmly believe you are reading more into this than is there. I've not said a thing to discredit my Mother's strength through the earlier years. I've said alot in analysis about how we came to where we are...and if I didn't...I may as well not post, because you wouldn't have any information. You are stuck on the 'military' card, as if once somebody is military, they are in the right no matter what...no, they are still human and very capable of thinking and making their own choices. Yes, our backgrounds help shape us, but they don't make excuses for poor behaviors.

Here's what I feel: You have your own issues...as we all do...but you are trying to inject your issues into every body elses. A summary of what you have had to offer: 'Why don't you just suck it up?'. Well, I have done so since the mid- to late- '90's and I'm at the end of my rope, so here I am. There had been many good times, but this hasn't been one of them. I would ask that if you don't have anything constructive to say, please don't say anything.
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Do NOT bring your parents into your new house. Go ahead with the accessible bathroom and the ramp, etc. That is only prudent when you are building a retirement home -- someday either you or your wife (or both) may be very glad you planned ahead.

Come up with some options for them and a plan for yourselves. They can choose among their options or find other options themselves, but your part of the plan is not negotiable, as CandyKane suggested.

Not only would their presence in your home be difficult for your wife and neighbors, it will also be bad for you and ultimately not the best choice for your parents. This could go on for another 20 years. Is this what you want to devote the prime of your life to?

Please read posts and articles on this site (and elsewhere) about narcissistic personality disorder and the challenges of living with someone -- caregiving someone -- with this disorder. I don't know if that is exactly what your father has, but many of the coping strategies seem applicable in this situation.

You may find it easier to relate to them if you visit them as a son, instead of sharing space with them as a landlord/caregiver. I think you have a better chance of coming to some resolution to your relationships that way. I am certainly not saying don't have anything further to do with them. Help them, advocate for them, love them, visit them. Just don't live with them!!
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Oh by the way Maysabop, I re-read my posts and I don't believe I mentioned narcissistic personality disorder once (it is however a real disorder, especially to those of us who have had less than wonderful parents). So where do you come off lecturing everyone else about the military and how we should and should not feel about military people. I will have you know I have had a relative in everything single war American has ever engaged in. From the American Revolution to the present. Just because you are military or military career doesn't mean you have to have a bullying personality.

And DTKemptll made the comment that his father feels entitled to everything and projects his nastiness on to all the children in the family. These are two symptoms of narcissism, yes, narcissism. Now when you get your PHD in psychology, I will listen to what you have to say. Until then you are just another person looking for answeres to your problems on this site. So stop bullying everyone else.
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All...thank you for your insight and your opinions. I'm impressed by how many responses I've received. I'm still reading through them. Of those I've read so far...gotta love the personal attacks and the assumptions that I and others don't care for or respect our parents and their backgrounds. If it were all so black and white, so simple to classify, that our situations were just one way or another, we wouldn't need support groups like this. I'm afraid it isn't as simple as turning a light on and off. Our lives are extremely complex...all of us.

I did catch a couple questions in there, so let me clarify a couple things real quick...or at least attempt to. Hope you can follow my ADD-enhanced paragraphs below, as I review and see I jumped around a bit.

I was raised in a military family. My Father was military by career. He was very strict with most of us five children, but especially on me, my brother and my 2nd oldest sister. He yelled alot when we were kids, much as he does now...using intimidation to get what he wants. He is no especially hard on me and my 2nd oldest sister. I am the eldest son, and am the one that has been helping them for all of these years. My sister had a rough childhood and was always in alot of trouble. She moved down near them in order to also help. She doesn't have the finances, but she helps in many other ways, such as getting them to doctors appointments, helping them keep the rental house clean, etc. Everybody else is far away.

When my Dad retired, he and my Mother became Real Estate agents. My Father was not one that had an issue blending into society after the military. Financially, my parents were very successful for many years. They, and especially my Father, were very social. Back in the military days, we lived both on and off of base at my Father's various stations within the country. Therefore, Yes, I do know how military parents are firsthand.

Yes, I do believe most of my parent's current issues and attitudes stem from their losses. It had been evident since their bankruptcy all those years ago. Prior to Hurricane Irene, they were already in a bad way...my Mother already slept constantly, my Father was already demanding and agressive with his speech toward me, they were already very unhealthy. Irene didn't help, but wasn't the greatest cause of the attitude. It was just another blow. I stress, again, this Irene didn't start the problems. In fact, they were already extreme before Irene.

My parents lived with my Wife and I for about a year over 14 years ago, when my Father had a Heart Attack and Prostate cancer close together. That was at least a year before he retired, before they moved into our 2nd home. We haven't lived with them or vice versa since, and do not intend to going forward. They did intend to live in our 2nd home once we rebuild. That, now, depends on our decisions, because of all of the added stress.

None of this, regardless of what some here may think, is disrespect to my parents....either of them. I respect anybody who serves in our military, I respected the successes they both had throughout their lives. I do, however, disrespect the way my Father has been treating us, as well as my Sister, when all we do is try to help them.

I also love my parents very much. That would be why it hurts so much. If I didn't, it would be easy to send them on their way and eliminate the source of my pain.

I do appreciate insight, well meaning advice, wisdom or just a pat on the back. Please lay off the sarcastic criticism and open your eyes to a much bigger, more complex reality that is our lives.

I hope I didn't offend anybody, because I do appreciate your input.
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Wow, Mayasbob. I've been reading your posts in this thread for a while an ach time refrained from commenting on them, but no more. Pipe down. Each time you write, it's to make yourself feel better about some constellation of choices you've made, or a situation you live with. And it sheds no light on the questions genuinely posed by this man. It adds no love to the world. So my advice to YOU is to heal yourself or maybe -- if you have to -- share your venom in your own world, and keep it out of the realm of others who actually are struggling to make life work, the best they can. Just stop it. Seriously.
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Hi I am the Wife of the great guy who is reaching out to you all for support and advice. I want to say how much I appreciate those of you who are supporting him and trying to help him make a decision. Perhaps I can shed some additional light to this situation. For years before the Hurricane my father in law would fight with my husband that the house, he was not paying for was too small, to keep the peace we paid to have an addition put on it.. wasn't good enough.. We have financially helped to support them for 15 years. They only went bankrupt because we stopped paying their bills before we also had to claim bankruptcy. We bought a second home just so they would have a place to live. While insurance paid for some of the rebuild we are getting a sizable loan to rebuild the house to accomodate both their needs and our future retirement designs. My father in law thinks he is entitled to make all the decisions on the house, even though none of his money is involved, and is verbally abusive to us everytime we give him an update on the house. Every decision we make comes with a thought of how will this upset him and is he going to yell at us because nothing we do is good enough for him since he didn't "pick it out" or design it. We have accomodated all their request, larger door jams, recessed thresholds, handicapped bathrooms, ramps, larger bedrooms and yes his request for a Jaccuzzi tub. We try to include him in decisions but he always angry, dissatisfied, negative and not supportive. To add to this situaiton 8 months ago my father was diangosised with Bladder cancer and I have been emotionally supporting my parents thru 3 surgeries and 5 months of chemo and radiation. My father decided this week to stop chemo and engage Hospice. My husband's siblings are all pushing us to either keep providing them with a place to live or tell them to find their own. Cause all have said they can't move in with them. They are not retirement poor and have more than enough money to rent their own place. Problem is my husband wants to furfill his mother's dream to live near the water. Other posters mentioned that we don't feel for what they have lost, we feel for their loss as we do anyone who has lost something. But what they lost were "things" what my husband has lost over the last 15 years is more precious and that is a relationship with his parents. In my opion we have bent over backwards to help them thru our marriage. We are married 23 year and all these situations are putting a large strain on our marriage. I struggled with supporting my husband with this situation when I wish he could focus on helping me be there for my parents. I really believe his father has medical or mental issues but he refuses to see the doctor. I want to walk away from his father, but his mother needs us... so my question to you all is how can we make this work?
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Oh Mayasbop what an amazing talent it must be to be able read minds and motives and intentions through a few paragraphs zipping through cyberspace! Awesome.

And to know that material things are important to all elders. Someone forgot to get that message to my mother or her sisters, poor things, but my friend's mother got that message loud and clear.

And, though I always have scored very high on reading comprehension tests, I'm amazed that you could see the dismissive attitude in the poster's writing. It was hidden to me. Thank you for pointing it out -- I would have missed it. (And, um, I still miss it when I re-read. Hmmm.)

And, silly me, I thought a public forum for persons taking care of their parents was exactly the place to explain one's perspective on parental health issues and family relationships. Thank you for setting us straight on that, too. Ehr... could you tell us what this forum should contain? Because obviously the vast majority of us get it wrong.

With your amazing talents and knowledge, it is surprising that you find time to post here. And, if you are busy, feel free to stop doing so. We'll understand.

Jeanne
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((((((Theresa)))))) thank you for sharting so honestly. I would say that your fil has mental issues with the attitude that you describe, and from my experience with people with that attitude, nothing will ever be good enough. It does sound like you and your husband have bent over backwack to help his parents, and it is time now to help you, and your family with your dad going into hospice. Fair is fair.
DTK -you wrote earlier that it twice has come to your parents not moving into that house - if I understood it correctly. Please correct me if I haven't. In my opinion that is your right move. It looks like high time to rexamine your priorities, and to cut the cord tying you to your mum's happiness. She chose to marry your dad, and she chooses to stay with him. Helping your mother fulfill a dream of living near the water is nothing near as important as supporting your wife. I have a parent who can't be pleased either, and continually trying to please her brings nothing but grief. The demands just escalate, and there is no thanks or gratitude of anykind. You mum has made some unhealthy choices in terms of her weight, and both of them, it seems in terms of foolish spending, and they are experiencing some of the consequences. That is how people learn. Rescuing them is not helpful. Draw some boundaries,. let them live their own lives, rent their own place and get on with their lives - and you and your wife look after yourselves.Can the plan, and strike out in a new direction that fills you and your wife's needs, not just yours. It seems that her parents are in more dire need of time and attention than yours are. You cannot save anyone else from their bad choices, and you have no obligation to devote so much of your resources to trying to fulfill some one else's dream. In fact, it sounds codependent to me-and I don't mean to criticize here. I have made many unhealthy, codependent choices with regard to my critical parent and am learning not to. The first thing I had to do to change me was to recognise it.

I wish you both the very best, and hope I have not been candid to the point of offending you. I truly believe that the way you are going will not work out well for you, and that some major readjustments are necessary for the wellbeing of your marriage. Good luck!
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Theresa, thanks for filling in some more information.

I completely hear your husband's desire to help his mom fulfill her dream of living on the water. The thing is, she is confused about what the real dream is, here, and so is your husband. The dream of the water isn't about a location as much as it is a dream of a refuge, a peaceful place, a place where there is nurturing and quiet. Regardless of where she lives, that's unattainable unless her husband lives elsewhere. A home on the water WITH her husband is no more peaceful than an apartment or house somewhere else with her husband.

So why cede your dream/retirement home to them? It's an admirable but unattainable gift he wants to give her. And it could be decades before you both get in your own home.

I hope maybe that your husband will be open to finding some ways to disconnect from his Dad, and the idea that ANYTHING he could do would be enough to make Dad happy. Ain't gonna happen. And maybe his siblings could help him find solutions for dear old Dad that don't require anyone to live with him but Mom. She has made the decision to stay for decades, and that is her choice.
Sending love and support and encouragement and good vibes your way.
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