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Sadly, this site is filled with caregivers whose siblings couldn't/wouldn't help care for parents in need. For those who cared for their parents while dealing with absentee siblings, how is your relationship with your sibling(s) now?


This is on my mind because we just had the one year anniversary of my MIL's passing and no communication between my husband and his brother. Hubby had a good conversation with his sister that day but didn't care to reach out to his brother or hear from him.

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No relationship.
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No relationship, either.
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It is... over. To the relief of all concerned, I believe. I last saw my siblings at my mother's funeral and don't expect to be in touch with them again (not if I spot them first, anyway).

But your husband's relationship with his brother is unique to the two of them, I don't think you can usefully compare experiences. These things never are set in stone and if it suits both then perhaps one day they will mend matters. Does it trouble you much, either way?
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metoo111 Nov 2019
Doesn't trouble me at all...actually, it's a relief. It's my husband's choice if he wants a relationship with his brother and I will support his decision either way...but I won't be involved.
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No relationship other than a text now and again. I do send my brother's 3 adult children a card and monetary gift for their birthday every year since my mom/their grandma died 5 years ago. And I do send my brother and his wife birthday cards. I was our Mom's caregiver. He lived many states away all of our adult life.
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tevincolorado Feb 2020
Do they send your birthday cards to you when it is your birthday?
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No relationship here either since my dad passed. I saw this coming years ago, but even I did not think that it would turn out this ugly. Unfortunately I do need to deal with him in the future when my mom passes as I am executor and he is a beneficiary, but I plan to do all communicating through lawyers because I will not subject myself to his abusive tirades.
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My Mom & Step-dad lived 4 hours away from me, each way. My sister lived 3 miles down the road from them. For almost 20 years, two days a week, Tues. & Thurs., I would go down to see them, do what I did, for 20 years. Called every day. On my days there, my sister would show up, mouthing. She brought them a pot of beans, once a month. This is what I did; cleaned the house, did the laundry, shopped for food they could prepare, arranged with the drugstore to let them get their meds., & anything else they wanted, I paid the bill. I also paid the utilities for the home. I would leave each of them a 100$ bill, to use as they chose to. My sibling told me I never did anything for them. She believed she would "get everything" when they were gone. As a notary, I knew how to fix that. Me and parents talked bout this; they did not want her to have it. I made their wills, did all necessary paperwork to have everything transferred to another sibling - not me - and when they went home, my sibling got the shock of her life. She walked away empty handed. Greed will do you in, everytime. I have been "disowned" by my sibling, 8 years now. I don't miss her b*tching at me. I have found peace in my soul.
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alexis9368 Nov 2019
Wow. That is so satisfying. One of my brothers won't even talk to my mom and told her he wouldn't go to her funeral because she wouldn't tell him where the money was. He had already been estranged for years. But she won't disown him and he gets as equal a share as I do. That's insulting enough but what troubles me more is the fact that I will have to deal with his litigious greedy ass no matter what. I think even if I signed over every penny to him he will still harass me asking for more documentation to make sure I didn't hide anything. Mind you this is from a person who has a guaranteed government pension, something most don't have these days.
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I don't have this issue as my brother & I work together as a team, and actually like spending time with each other.

Having said that I have noticed where the relationships of siblings only function through the hierarchy, parents at the top, everyone filtering through them when the parents die so do the relationships as they are not forged singerly.

Many parents control the family this way, my mother tried to do that with me and my brother, conquer and divide, but it didn't work. She wanted everything to filter through her, we were not supposed to spend any time together without her, sorry mother, not going to happen.

Now, due to her abuse I do not have contact with her, and never will again, yet my brother & I continue to move forward and fine tune our relationship.
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NeedHelpWithMom Nov 2019
Good for you, Dolly. You sound like a wise woman to me!
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Being born into a family doesn’t automatically make it a family. Family dynamics can be very complicated. It takes all parties to make it work. Not everyone has that. For those who do I am truly happy for you. What a blessing.

Please understand that some of us wanted that too but through no fault of our own it simply wasn’t possible. We can’t force siblings to care.
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anonymous972110 Nov 2019
Sounds like my family. My brother had absolutely no use for me other than as family slave. He passed away several years ago and it doesn’t bother me. At the time he died, I gave him a nice funeral (his daughter tried to steal jewelry from I’m me at the funeral. I cut his children and wife out of my life. I want nothing to do with them. His daughter tries to get me to take her two little girls, but let her husband’s parents take them.
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It depends on the day. When my mom got very sick and I called my brother to let him know (he lives far away), he seemed concerned and offered to help. Later when she got out of the hospital and had to move into a nursing home, he was much less interested. Lately, he hasn't been answering my calls or texts. My mom doesn't understand why he never calls her and it makes her sad; I feel stuck in the middle since he does actually respond to me more often than he does to her.
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ArtistDaughter Nov 2019
My brother doesn't visit our mom. I don't understand, but I accept. He for some reason doesn't want to be a part of this experience she is going through. She is not hurt by it, or at least she doesn't seem to be. Sometimes it takes a while of my explaining who he is when I talk about him, but she eventually remembers him and says, "oh he's such a loner". I think he has a fear of witnessing the ill and infirm, especially since she's his mother. I for some reason, who knows why, am not afraid of it and actually find it interesting and allow it to be a large part of what my life is about right now. I think my brother and I will be fine in the future too, just accepting each other for what we can and can't do. But I do feel bad for your mom that she is hurt by your brother's inability to respond, but there is really nothing you can do about it except to be there for your mom and go through the memories you share about your brother. Hugs to you.
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I have three siblings and was the primary caregiver because I am a single woman and lived in the same city. My sibling who lives in another state did the best she could under her circumstances, visiting quarterly and calling our parent regularly. One who lives locally hosted dinners on holidays but didn't visit much or offer help on other days. The third one offered suggestions of more things he thought I should be doing without offering help. He has no responsibilities but himself and yet contributed the least. My relationship with these siblings is proportional to their actions. I talk occasionally with the remote one, less occasionally with the holiday host and never with the self-centered one. There are not strong family bonds between us and I don't expect to see any of them again. Certainly they don't care about me.
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NeedHelpWithMom Nov 2019
Me too! As the only girl I was expected to be the servant! Sexist generation. Look at the old television shows.
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No relationship after my father died. There was also a dispute with my brothers over money.
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marymary2 Nov 2019
So sorry. Probably always going to be a fight with bad siblings over money (or things). I anticipate it and have seen it even with ex spouse whose siblings got along before their mother died. Two never spoke again over a few thousand bucks. Still, even if common, not fun for you....
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I was surprised my brother's didn't visit Mom more. Yes, the one lived 7 hrs away but only visited maybe 2x a year. When their kids got older, they didn't visit. I understood that brother's job was driving everyday so 7 hrs on a weekend was pushing it. My other brother lived 30 min. away and rarely saw Mom. I know it was hard seeing Mom the way she was but I had to deal with her decline everyday. She was a good Mom. Our friends were treated like her children. Everyone liked Mom. It just surprised me that her sons didn't keep in touch more. When we do get together, its like old home week. I enjoy the time. The one thing is they left me alone to care for Mom. I would run things by them but in the end I made the finale decisions.
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I feel so fortunate & obviously in the minority. My sister & I disagreed at times but always worked it out. She lived 2 miles away from parents & I lived over an hour away. I was primary on so many levels but I think it’s because I am proactive & she is reactive. We settled into our roles and often vented to each other about our brothers.

One brother lived 600 miles away & would have been just as useless & uninvolved if he lived next door to our parents. He was the golden child who we all catered to our entire lives. We made peace with it & ended up helping him with his battle with lung cancer.

The other brother lived 30 minutes away from our parents & started to visit/help Mom on Sundays because his marriage was falling apart & he needed an outlet. Worked for us! And help he did — every Sunday for years. Just like sister & I helped every week.

When Mom passed 5 months after the long-distance brother passed, sis & I realized we are all the local brother has. It was like we collectively agreed to let bygones be bygones and leave the squabbles & hurts where they belong — in the past.

Again, I am reminded of how fortunate I am. Now my husband’s family? Another story entirely. But it has been like that the entire time I have known them — almost 35 years. They thrive on drama & discord, orchestrated by their narcissistic mother. I can’t ever see them all getting along at the same time, regardless of what they would like to do. The hurt is too much & too deep. The walls are too high. The distrust is too much to let go. The relationships he has right now is with his brothers and only with them — no wives or (adult) children included. That last part I find incredibly sad — that the cousins have no relationship.
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ArtistDaughter Nov 2019
I'm glad you have a sister. I wish mine had been along for this ride with me. She would have been naturally so good at what I had to figure out how to be good at. Sadly, she died at the beginning of it all, but expressed to me that she knew I'd take care of our mom. So in a way I refer to her wisdom all the time in this care giving.
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I am still close to my only sibling, my brother. Even though he doesn't help out my Mother I don't hold it against him. He's been in therapy and he is not obligated to take care of my Mother anymore than I am. But I live 15 minutes away and he lives 5 hours away. He has a wife that my Mother NEVER EVER got along with. My brother has a daughter that my Mother doesn't even acknowledge. So I really don't blame him for not wanting to be in my Mothers life. My Mother on the other hand always was their for both my kids and was always good to my husband. So I honestly can say I don't feel resentment towards my brother. He is 9 years older than me and I have always looked up to him. We are still close. They lost their only son years ago at age 21 in an automobile accident. My Mother still can't put herself in their shoes or show any kind of empathy whatsoever. The only thing she said was I'm glad it happened where he lived and not when he was visiting me. My Mother said my brother and sister n law would have blamed My Mother if it happened when he was visiting her. That's all she could think about was her own self!!!! I have always been heartbroken over it. I can't imagine going through that. I'm not about to turn my back on my brother since my Mother hasn't been their for him and his family at all.
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janeinspain Nov 2019
Elaine, I really admire your ability to see the big picture and support your brother, despite your mom’s attitude and actions. You are lucky and wise to be able to nurture your relationship with him - hopefully you will have it to enjoy well into the future, beyond your mother’s life.

Jane
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My brother is very rich AND narcissistic. I gave my house of 28 years up, a job (working for the family business for 25 years, busting my butt till my brothers social-path girlfriend got rid of me, and he did nothing) and moved in with my 87 year old mom (who had a bigger house) to take care of her since she has dementia. I did not want her leaving her home, and thought I could take care of her, and I did for 10 months, ALL by myself. It was like taking care of a toddler. She was not self care at all. My brother never helped me take care of her, or give me any breaks. HIS traveling, and HIS life were just to important to give up, and I am 60, single and unemployed, so he left me to do everything. I finally had her put in assisted living since my health was going downhill from stress, exhaustion, and depression. She has been there for 8 months now, and is happy, and seems so much better. I wish I could say the same about me. We both live in the same town as our mom, and I still do everything, such as picking up her meds, taking her to the Doctors, etc.... My brother doesn't give a shit about me, or really even our mother who has been the best mother ever! My brother and my relationship just keeps going downhill further and further, so, no, when something happens to her, our contact will most likely be done. We rarely talk to each other now.
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marymary2 Nov 2019
Your story is almost mine, the only difference being my mother isn't a good mother and loves the selfish sibs only, instead of me doing all the care. I just wanted to say you deserve to be free from him when you can. You deserve to spend time with those who appreciate you and treat you well. Wishing you health and happiness.
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My biological brother was super, and we never became estranged when decisions about caring for my mother were made. Oddly enough, the estrangement I had was with my step-sister who accused my husband and me of killing my mother as she had a major medical incident while we were out of the country attending my daughter's wedding. Granted, my mother's health was declining. But my son was living at the house at the time along with her husband who was a practicing physician. I also made arrangements for my cousins to come by the house daily to check in on her.

Relationships are tenuous right now. I think she had some eye-opening moments of her own when her biological mother had a stroke. However, since her father (her biological father, my step-father) lives with my husband and me, it makes EVERY decision (financial, medical, day-to-day care, etc.) so difficult.
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My mother raised four children on her own with no help from my father. She was diagnosed six years ago with Dementia. None of my siblings believed it and fought me tooth and nail because I took her to be evaluated. There isn’t enough room on this page to express everything they have done to her and me. The last two times my older sister came I had to call the cops to have her removed. They even reported me to the Office of Aging three times saying the most awful things I could ever imagine. They have accused me of unbelievable things, poisoned my nephew and nieces against both my mother and myself. Nobody calls or visits or even sends her a card. I can’t believe that this is how they have thanked her for giving up her life for us. She didn’t even date anyone because she devoted all of her time to us. I pray for them to find joy, peace, and happiness that only a miracle could bring them. But again I hold out no hope. Mom and I laugh and carry on and have a lot of good days as well as bad. It’s too bad that they are missing out on the most wonderful mother anyone could of asked for. I’m glad I have her in my life and glad she still knows who I am, because now she doesn’t know them, so very sad😢
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NeedHelpWithMom Nov 2019
So sickening how family behaves. I’m so sorry you are dealing with this. Hugs!
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I can't really answer as to how my siblings will end up or if we'll even get on in the future. Our father is still alive and my brother is the POA which suits my sister and I fine as we don't want the responsibility. We have a weekender which my father claims he bought for me as he assumed I would never marry, which I have. While the weekender is nice to have for rental purposes, I.would rather sell it and have everything split 3 ways, so we all get the same amount when our father dies. But my God, he bitches and moans about money and having to pay capital gains tax. He doesn't care that his obsession with money drives me insane and his constant bitching about my brother ripping us all off.
Anyway, I've started setting some boundaries with our father. Not ringing him every day as I used to, doing some things for him but giving my husband and myself some space too. I can't allow myself to feel guilty anymore. He's always happy to.hear from.me still at least.
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It's sad but if I never see my sibling again, I'll consider that a win. Unfortunately she's vulturing around now so that's unlikely for a while. She's done virtually NOTHING to help with either parent, emptying the house, etc...the works, but the second Dad passes she shows up after years of estrangement asking for an 'advance on her inheritance', among other greedy behaviors. It's hideous. If anything she's created more work for me since I need to keep track she's not going to try to defraud mom, etc...And she acts like a victim!

Thanks for the opportunity to vent. I'm not glad there's more of us 'out there', but I'm glad we can acknowledge each others' experience.
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marymary2 Nov 2019
We've got to vent somewhere - so thank you to all on this site. Seeing anyone else vent makes me feel not so alone, so double thanks!
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No relationship with one sib, the one who 'jails' mother. Minimal contact with other 3 and it's ALWAYS at my instigation. ALWAYS.

Trying to do a group gift for Christmas and he will not even answer an email. I have to have his 'permission' to get this gift and I need to order it ASAP, but he doesn't respond.

I imagine that if mother ever dies, I will help with the cleanup/cleanout of her apartment and will never speak to him again.
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NeedHelpWithMom Nov 2019
I get it. We have reasons to feel as we do, don’t we?
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For me, I think dealing with this situation would make it impossible for me to forgive them. Unless they really really begged and totally understood the hell they had put me through.

Otherwise, I think the damage would be done and you can't unring the bell.
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marymary2 Nov 2019
Agree that sometimes forgiveness is not possible. But given the selfish jerks my siblings were in time of need, I can't imagine them ever apologizing or understanding anyway. Doing so wouldn't benefit them and narcissists (in my case) can never admit wrong.
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It is a great weight lifted off my shoulders. One sibling kicked mom out and hasn't seen her in 7 years, but thinks she deserves a telephone call when neighbors tell her that there was an ambulette or ambulance at the house. The other no longer comes to see her mom because there is no WiFi int he house for her son to play video games. I have come to the conclusion that I never want to see them again and after seeing what I have seen ad trying to understand their actions; I am just too damn busy taking care of their mother while they sit in their homes thousands of miles away. And actually I sleep a lot better because I can put my energy to more positive things then wondering why adults in their late 50's and 60's don't care.
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I have to wonder, if we don't just grow up and go our separate ways, separate interests, separate life experiences, and maybe in the end .. just because the person is blood relation, it doesn't automatically mean it's someone you'd seek out to spend any time with. The person you grew up with in a sibling .. may grow up to be someone that you just don't enjoy being around.

That same sibling, no help at all, estranged, . .and/or just indifferent and no help in the c'giving role, and/or decisions .. but all of that aside, it may be that the relationship just distances in the end, simply by the fact, . .it's just not a person you particularly enjoy being in the presence of.

That's the case with myself and a brother. He does nothing to help ... nothing. I've distanced myself from helping for a whole other reason .. and so am not on the scene c'giver role . not in large measure .. not anymore, .. for different reasons.

But as to a brother who 'could' and 'should' help .. at least in most recent times when there was more acute illness .. and didn't. That's one reason I don't seek out to spend much time with him, but .. .the bigger reason is he just isn't anyone that I desire to be around. I find him pompous and arrogant . and not at all anything I have in common with, other than we share the same genetics. Not reason enough for me to try to overlook and be around him.
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marymary2 Nov 2019
Exactly, Dorker. Sometimes, as was my case, it takes that care taking time or death to realize that my siblings and I have nothing in common. If I met them, I would not like them as they are materialistic, greedy, snobbish, pompous and selfish. Blood is not thicker than water, as my mother always tried to tell me. In the few years I have left, I want to spend my time and energy with those that I like, respect and that don't mistreat me.
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Really, such a shame the family dynamic is dying. I was the oldest of 4. Always had an Uncle or Aunt dropping in for a cup of coffee and to eat something Mom baked. Since Dad was one of 8, had a gaggle of cousins. But, those cousins have had to move away for one reason or another. TG for Facebook so we can keep in touch. My brother is 7 hours away and now Mom's gone, I doubt if he will be back home. Sounds like I am a "Debbie Downer" but no one comes back just to visit us. We have been to see them more times than they have been up here. Mainly stop overs on the way to MILs in Fla but she has been gone for 6 years. SILs seem to think our family isn't as important as theirs. So when cutbacks were made, my girls got nothing when SILs nieces and nephews still got. The two that did this, one on each side, I never understood anyway.

There are big age differences between my youngest brothers girls and mine. Like 18 yrs between the two oldest. So nothing in common there. We haven't seen them since my Moms funeral 2 yrs ago. Both in early 20s.

You wonder how children raised in the same family with the same genes can be so different. And no, you don't have to like each other. I feel though, when you bring someone else into the fold, things do change.
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caringdil Nov 2019
This is sad! When I was a child my uncle took care of my great grandmother who was bedridden for as long as I knew her. We visited every time we visited my grandparents. All of the children lived close by and it was fun to visit. My mother was an only child. She took care of my grandmother for two years until my grandma grew too frail. I now help my husband w my mil. His siblings rarely visit and refuse to help. I am angry and bitter.
We have had numerous discussions about the lack of visits and support. Sadly, I feel a part of the difference is caregiving is now viewed as a chore. My great uncle and his wife may have been angry but if they were, I never saw it. It is so sad. I am very guilty of being grumpy about my situation and maybe that contributes to the decay of family...
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I'm the youngest of 3 and I'm alone caring for my mom. I'm almost 30. My oldest brother is literally 30 minutes away (2 cities over) and hasn't the time of day to check on his mom, even text her. He's mid 40.

Sad cause she stuck up for him countless times, held a party for him and his former wife, bailed him out of prison several times, visited him in prison which she swore she'd never do, even supported him despite his stuff and alcohol addiction.

My second oldest brother wants to help but he is on the west coast and has a family of his own. He's over 30. I don't blame him for wanting a family but moving far away and not being able to visit his mom is a real downer. He claims he won't be able to visit for a year or so and keeps pushing the moving date back.

I feel alone in this but I honestly do have good friends who want to help. Not much they can do given my mom's situation but at least they're here.
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We are in pretty much the same situation. Hubby and brother have been estranged for years. His sister had died several years ago, so there was just the two. MIL passed away last Christmas Day 2018, and brother wouldn't even come to the funeral. There was no help from anyone during MIL's stay at the nursing facility. We've been on our own.
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I know someone who will never speak to her only sibling again. There was fighting over the finances and brother ended up suing her because she used her mom's money for 24/7 in home care, so she could build a house on the opposite side of the country and fly there every few weeks for 10 days at a time. The brother tried to take over mom's care. Most of us caring for a parent in home are lucky if we get a break to go to the grocery store. These two will never speak to each other again.
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people (Family, friends, the LO Physician) do frequently disappear or avoid when your LO has dementia for whatever reason Be it not wanting to get financially involved or give their time, or they just can’t handle stress at all 😐 Many people can’t seem to be around or handle brain diseases in LOs (or just generalized debilitating aging) for WHATEVER reason. The bottom line is to forgive—so you wont lose YOUR health and protect yourself so that you may move forward afterwards. I feel hurt and sad too and angry with some. Mom has not passed yet, but I’m planning to take the best care I can of her and protect her and let them go. I will place my true trust in God and know that I’m doing what’s right in a horrible situation ...people are too fickle . I truly understand tho these feelings posted and empathize with you all ! Blessings
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You'd never know it but I have a brother. We were raised by the same people at the same time. We both witnessed our grandparents decline with dementia and we also saw our father's 5 other siblings take turns in their care. I'm sure they had their issues too but what we saw was a family coming together when it was needed. This is not the case at all with my brother and our elderly father. Dad lives with me for 3 years now and I do everything for him. I take care of his meals, I make sure the house is clean and that he makes it to his doctor appointments. I make sure he gets out of the house daily even if it's just to go to the store. I take care of the bills, I keep up with his daily hygiene and I try to make sure he's comfortable. I'm 51 and single and for the last 3 years, I hit the pause button and haven't been able to hit play yet. My brother, his wife and 2 young girls used to live about 30 minutes away and we only saw them at MY request (he NEVER initiates contact) maybe 5 or 6
times in 2 years. They have since moved to a town 2 hours away and we've seen them once in a year at their new house. I've gotten over not getting any help with my dad from my brother or getting any sort of break at all when they've already been on 3...THREE vacations so far this year. I've decided that the stress of being angry all the time just isn't worth it. It breaks my heart however, that my nieces aged 2 and 4 do not have a relationship with their grandfather. Their parents never call to check in and give them a chance to at least talk to him. My brother and I were at my grandparents' house every week with all my uncles, aunts and cousins and had really great memories of those years. Holidays are ALWAYS with my sister-in-law's side of the family in Maine or SC and my father and I are not invited. My brother and I used to be close and so I'm really angry about being ghosted for this long of a time. We've never talked about money or what will happen when he finally passes but it should be an interesting conversation. My dad made me the executor of his will and my brother would only get anything if something happened to me and I'm not inclined to be very generous.
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we never figured out why the sun rose and set around our brother, he was the oldest, maybe? Only son? He was hardly there when we needed him to help out with our parents. It was so much worse with our mother. So undependable. He lived with our parents for a long time. Even after our dad passed away. In which, he didn’t show to help with the arrangements or even show up at the funeral. My sister and I did the best we could. With me living out of town and having to work, my sister did a lot..but she has health issues. When mothers health declined drastically (and I promised her I never would) my sister and I decided on the nursing home. There are so many details to this story..I still feel guilt but mother actually became a social butterfly and even though she continued to complain.. and our brother continued to make broken promises and still undependable(Our brother continued to live in the house Our parents rented for over +30 years) , my sister went everyday or every other day, I went on wkends when I didn’t work. Mother had all she needed and then some. But still, when he showed up, seems like we got kicked to the curb..Anyway, when mother was in the hospice facility, a friend pretty much dragged him over to see her. This happened a couple of times during her last days. He didn’t show to help with the arrangements (as he said he would) nor has he help pay his part. They say of the funeral, he showed up. We politely told him where to stand to greet people at the door. As we didn’t stand up front(as we should have🤦‍♀️ Mother was cremated) he wouldn’t go down to the front where everything was set up. When the service started, he left. And we haven’t spoken or seen to him since and that’s been ..we told mother we would watch him..he’s the one who walked out on us...my sister has had a tad more contact..he called when he needed bailed out. He’s not alone..there is a long time girlfriend. A lot of things have happened in our personal lives that I’m sure he is aware of, he hasn’t called to check on us. Like I said, I feel he left us. We have tried all of these years. He brought this on himself. There was no estate to fight over. He ruined our parents name by letting the longtime landlord down.. owing over $3,000.. having rob be evicted.. I know this because I use to be the “go between” until he walked out... now, I’m done...
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