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by Abigail Van Buren

Woman Caring for Dying Friend Begins to Question Her Loyalty

DEAR ABBY: My mother is a widow living on a fixed income. From time to time various relatives have moved in with her. They offer limited financial assistance, but none appear inclined to keep the house in good repair.

I have gone beyond my financial limits to help Mama with emergencies, such as paying the light bill and making repairs to her house. My husband and I also clean up and do yard work over there. I am not an only child, but my siblings do not feel inclined to help out.

Yesterday, Mama again asked me for financial help to make repairs to the house. Did I mention there are four other people living there? While I never resent helping my mother, I sometimes do resent struggling to pay for upkeep and repairs to a home while other able-bodied adults living there benefit from my hard work. They are freeloading off my generosity.

Should I continue paying for my mother's house and mine? I have offered several times to let her move in with me, but she can't bear to give up her home. -- FEELING USED IN GEORGIA

DEAR FEELING USED: It's time for you to have a heart-to-heart talk with your mother and your siblings and explain that you are no longer willing to shoulder this responsibility all by yourself. Tell her that if she's going to receive further help from you, she must either inform her "houseguests" they must pony up and contribute financially and with the chores, or allow you to tell them on her behalf. You are all adults, and it's time that everyone started acting like it. Please understand that unless you are willing to draw the line, nothing will change.