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by Abigail Van Buren

Widower Ready to Live Alone Is Pained to Leave Aunt Behind

DEAR ABBY: I am a 61-year-old widower. A year ago I faced a bleak future and expressed a desire to kill myself. My cousin in another state, whom I hadn't seen since childhood, invited me to move in with him and his mother -- my late mother's sister.

I now have plans for the future, which include returning to the state I left. The thing is, my cousin resolves disputes with his fists. I know that when I move, my aunt will want to come with me. My aunt is sweet, but she's not my intellectual equal.

Frankly, I prefer to be alone in my home when I move. I'll want cats; she's allergic. She smokes; I don't. The job I want will have me on the road for days at a time. While it would be nice to have someone in the house while I'm away, I'd rather have it be empty than have her there.

I'm sorry her only child is abusive, but am I really the solution? (Both mother and son are twice divorced. They have only each other.) Moving is about a year away, but this dilemma bothers me. I don't want to abandon her, but I don't want to be her savior, either. When it's time to relocate, what can I tell her? -- MULLING IT OVER IN MISSISSIPPI

DEAR MULLING: Start talking privately with your aunt and impress upon her that no one -- including her son -- has the right to physically or emotionally abuse her. Encourage her to call the National Domestic Violence Hotline (the toll-free number is 800-799-7233) and talk to someone there.

I'm sorry you didn't mention who is supporting whom, but she should not remain in a home where her safety may be threatened. And if her son raises a hand to her in your presence, you shouldn't hesitate to call 911. If he does it when you're not around, impress upon her that she must call.

Read more in: Family & Parenting | Abuse