Dear Abby: Suffering woman tires of sister’s negativity

DEAR ABBY: I have ALS, aka Lou Gehrig’s disease, am wheelchair- or bed-bound, and am unable to do anything for myself, much less around the house. My husband works, and aides come in four days a week for several hours to provide me with personal care.

I have to ask my only sister to help once a month. (She’s older than I am.) When I do, she always puts conditions on the time or complains about the traffic. (She lives an hour away.) I finally told her I’m tired of hearing it and I want her to WANT to help me. Apparently, she was offended, so she’s giving me the silent treatment. She isn’t lazy, but maybe self-centered and lacking in empathy.

I have four older brothers, but only one who lives close — an hour away. When I ask his wife for help, she never hesitates and comes bearing casseroles. The only difference between us three women is that my sister never had children and never experienced the challenges and sacrifices that come with parenting. I’m grateful for any help and always express thanks. Should I be grateful for whatever help she gives me or take her silence as unwillingness to help and move on? — IN NEED IN PENNSYLVANIA

DEAR IN NEED: Of course you should be grateful for whatever help your sister gives. It’s unfortunate that she doesn’t recognize the effect her constant complaints have on you. (You are ill, and she’s a martyr.) Considering the challenges you face every day, it’s a shame she doesn’t have it in her to be more sensitive, but she doesn’t. If her complaints add additional stress to your situation, you should definitely “move on” if it’s feasible. From your description, your sister-in-law is an angel on earth.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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