DEAR ABBY: I am the 24/7 caregiver for my husband, "Earl." We were both widowed when we married nine years ago. His daughter, "Mindy," hasn't talked to her father for six years -- hasn't called, emailed or even sent a birthday card. If he tried calling her, she wouldn't pick up.
Recently, Earl had a serious health problem resulting in a colostomy bag. I take care of everything. When he called to tell Mindy, her husband answered the phone and said she wasn't home. When my husband told him about his health, the son-in-law said OK -- nothing more. Then Earl invited the whole family to come here. Again, the response was, "I don't know."
After Earl hung up, I said, "I think it's time Mindy came here to take care of you." (Six years ago she told my husband, "Dad, if you die first, I'll get that woman out of the house in three days!")
Abby, must I wait for this to happen or should I just pack my stuff and move out, leaving a vulnerable 88-year-old man alone? Mindy will put him in a nursing home and sell the house to pay off her credit card debt -- some of it, because the house isn't worth much money.
Earl says, "Don't leave me, I need you!" Well, what about me? Where is my life and my security? I'm getting older. If he lives another 10 years, it will take a toll on my health, and I'll be moving?
Should I seek compensation for my caregiving? I pay all my own expenses. I don't pay rent. That was the main concern from his relatives when we got married. I was a widow and had a job and a condo, which I sold. I put the money in the bank and used cash to pay for a new car, a computer, a wheelchair for my husband, etc.
Don't I have to plan for my future in my old age? Or should I leave it up to God and hope He takes me before my husband? I need your advice. -- WORRIED WIFE IN FLORIDA
DEAR WORRIED WIFE: You're right to be concerned about your future. That's why, before making any decisions, it is important you consult a lawyer and learn what your rights are as a wife in the state of Florida. You should not have to worry about being thrown out into the street because Earl's daughter has money problems and is looking to cash in. If you love your husband, your place is beside him for as long as the good Lord allows.