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by Abigail Van Buren

Siblings Drifting Apart Must Come Together for Mother

DEAR ABBY: My problem is the relationship I have with my brother. We're both in our 40s and married. Over the last few years our relationship has deteriorated.

We live in different states, and I see him once a year when I visit Mom. I call him in between, but he never returns my calls. When we do get together, he makes it clear that he'd rather be somewhere else. It makes me sad because we have a small family and I'd like to be closer -- like we were in the past.

Mom is in her 80s and lives alone in the house we grew up in. She has lived by herself for more than 20 years. Although she's very active, the house has become a burden. She and I have talked about selling it and her moving to a senior residence close to me. She is thrilled with the idea.

I am afraid my brother will make a fuss and try to discourage the process, since Mom would be moving out of state. I'll be going to visit Mom soon to help with some jobs around the house. How do I get through to my brother that this would be a progressive move for Mom? -- SENSIBLE SIBLING IN MINNESOTA

DEAR SENSIBLE SIB: You're behaving as if the decision is yours and your brother's to make. If your mother is "thrilled" with the idea of being closer to you, it's possible that your brother and his wife are less involved in her life than you think. When you go to visit and your brother comes by acting as if he'd rather be elsewhere, start a family discussion on the subject and don't let him hijack it. Your mother's wishes should prevail.

P.S. I don't know whether you and your brother will be able to re-establish the closeness you once had or the reason you drifted apart. But a mediator might be able to help if you both are willing.