This information is meant for anyone who is thinking about, or involved in, the “live in” care of one or both parents, and have siblings to deal with. We spent three years taking care of my wife’s parents. These are the facts from our side of the story. Of course there are two sides to every story, so the “why” is something that I still don’t understand. All I know is that all it took the amount of time to read a text for two of my wife’s siblings to think the worst of us, and in the end, for one of them to break off our family relationship. This was done without us even talking to them in person, from the time we told them until now.
How It All Started, Sept 2018
We had just sold our home and were staying in the basement apartment in a friends house. Our intentions were to get an apartment in the building where my father in law and mother in law lived. My father in law’s health was not good and we thought that being in the same building we could help them out. The thought occured to me that we could move in with them until our apartment became available. We were getting calls at all times of day and my wife was going up to their apartment for various reasons, mostly to do with her father’s health.
Phone calls were made to my wife’s siblings. He sister out west thought it was great that we would around, and her sister in Ontario thought the same, at the time. He brother’s first response was “as long as it financially feasable”. Somehow he got the impression that we had to move in because we couldn’t afford a place on our own. I have no idea how he got that impression, I never talked to him about our finances. Your guess is as good as mine on that one. His response didn’t surprise me one bit.
After a month or so living with my wife’s parents the superintendent of the building said he had a one bedroom apartment available. We sat down and discussed this with my wife’s parents. They begged us not to take it. We didn’t, but indicated that at some point in time we would be getting our own place in the building eventually and they agreed.
Credit Where Credit Is Due
Time went on and my father in law’s health deteriorated. My wife’s sister in Ontario made many flights down to us on the east coast to help. She would fly down for a weekend and her brother would drop by now and then, but my impression was that he was having a hard time dealing with it. He was of no help at all really, in the daily taking care of his parents. My father in law passed away on ———-.
My mother in law was fragile after the death so we decided to keep the same arrangement for a period of time until we were ready to get our own place. This was agreed by the three of us. In fact when we told her that we were getting our own apartment in he building (August 2021) she said that she remembered our agreement and that the day had come, it was no surprise to her. Did she like the idea? Probably not, but she knew it was coming. I can’t state this enough, because it got lost in probably disapoinment, fear, aniexty, that we were willing to stay in the building to look after her. I could care less what others think or even say because there is not one person that I have talked to about this that can believe it happened. We know we did the right thing and we did not break up the family.
**Side Note: I cannot state clearly enough, for a married couple, the importance of having your own space to have alone time together as a married couple. This is going to be crucial in maintaining your own marriage. We did not have that for over three years. We simply had a bedroom and shared everything else. Our marriage was starting to shows signs of stress. We knew that to save our marriage we needed a place of our own. I guess that was our selfish side. OK I guess everyone is selfish at some point in their lives, some all their lives. Once my brother in law said “and I appreciate that” after my wife made a remark about something, I can’t remember what the exact remark was, but it would have been in the vain of what we were doing on a daily basis to take of his mother. And yes he took me out golfing, so did he show no thanks, no.
I can only go by my own experience with my mother. We had quite a disagreement about my mother’s health and her living conditions. Different circumstances but challenging. I think I was hurt to think that my mother and my sister, who has been looking after my mother for over 30 years, would think that I had anything else but concern for my mother. We eventually worked out the issue but I make an effort to tell my sister that I appreciate everything she does for mom. Our relationship is stellar now, but that was from face to face contact, offering support and giving credit where credit is due.