DEAR ABBY: My 92-year-old mother is the most hateful woman you have ever met. My husband and I took her into our home because she could no longer care for herself. She immediately took over everything, telling us what to do, being demanding and complaining that nothing was ever right.
She tried to discipline my well-behaved kids, ages 15 and 21. She attempted to treat them the way she treated us, using foul language, hitting and verbally abusing. My husband and kids have called me at work saying I need to get home immediately because Mother was out of control.
We told her we'd cook her meals because she could no longer use the oven. We modeled appropriate examples of interacting with the kids, but she just didn't get it. We finally had to put her in a nursing home.
Now we are wracked with guilt. Did I do the right thing? My siblings didn't want her because of her long history of abuse. I'm in no hurry to visit her at the home, either. Why couldn't she be the kindly grandma and parent that many children have? -- GUILT-RIDDEN IN TUSTIN, CALIF.
DEAR GUILT-RIDDEN: Probably because she was modeling behavior she learned from her own mother and possibly because she is demented. Frankly, it was unrealistic to expect that she would suddenly change from the person she has been for the past 92 years into a Disney character -- and I don't mean Cruella De Vil.
Did you do the right thing? All things considered, yes. However, you should not abandon your mother. As a loving daughter -- which you have tried to be -- I'm advising you to try a little harder. Visit her. Bring her something to distract her. If she's able to be moved, take her out for a meal. When she's gone, you, unlike your siblings, will have nothing to regret.
DEAR ABBY: My son "Rob" and his fiancee invited me to join them at a dinner his father and stepmother, "Jane," are hosting. Rob's grandmother, brother and sister-in-law will be there, as well as Jane's two sons. I love them all and thought they loved me.
Apparently, Jane doesn't want me to attend! No reason was given. I was shocked. Jane and my ex were always welcomed in my home and life. I wished them well when they married after dating for 20 years. Jane's children have spent the night in my home. I took care of them for several days after a hurricane. I even flew her youngest son to join Rob and me at a theme park. Now when I look back, I realize Jane never reciprocated.
Rob and I are heartbroken. He wants nothing to do with Jane and doesn't want her at his wedding. He's furious with his dad for letting Jane make the rules. Rob doesn't want to attend their dinner. Abby, I am sick that I have apparently caused a rift in the family. Please tell me how to deal with this. -- STUPEFIED IN THE SOUTH
DEAR STUPEFIED: Take the high road and encourage Rob to attend the dinner. This is Jane's party, and as the hostess it was her privilege to invite you -- or not. Rob should not have assumed that he could dictate her guest list.
While you have done everything you can to be a friend to Jane and have one large, happy extended family, she may feel competitive toward you. Or she may regard you as a chapter in her husband's life that she would prefer to be closed. Regard it as a reflection on her and her own insecurities. Be smart, take your cue from this and step back.
As to Jane attending Rob's wedding -- if he wants his dad there, he may have to accept her presence. But that decision is Rob's to make. Do not allow yourself to be dragged into it.
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