Dear Auntie Linda, My husband, Bob, had a cancerous kidney removed four years ago. Our marriage was never good. He is a truck driver and did well until three weeks ago when he was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor after a seizure. Now, he is unable to work. His prognosis is poor and he needs my health insurance. We have three children. I had already told him I was leaving before all this happened. I could never leave him, now, with him being sick. He had already confronted me because of some text messages and emails he found, though I am pretty sure he has been unfaithful as well. He knows I have gotten involved with Mike, co-worker. I want a relationship with him.
Bob, our children, and I are all devastated by Bob’s illness and terminal diagnosis. They know I was leaving before all this happened, and immediately they all started saying I had to stay now. I feel awful about Bob’s illness. I know I am hopelessly stuck. Both our families are involved now. We live in small town where everyone knows everyone else’s business. Our minister has already been here to visit.
I know I have to stay and care for Bob till the end. That is not my issue. Mike is very supportive. He understands I cannot leave Bob and isn’t asking for that. There is a workshop for my job I must attend in San Francisco next month. Bob’s parents will be coming to stay with him and the children while I must be gone.
Mike wants us to be together that week. I don’t see how it would hurt since Bob knows how I felt before his illness. I wouldn’t hurt Bob by rubbing his nose in it, but I don’t see why I shouldn’t take this opportunity since Bob knew I was leaving him before his diagnosis. Am I wrong to want some happiness before what promises to be a miserable, lengthy ordeal? Molasses Molly
Dear Molasses, No, you are not wrong to want happiness, but this is not the time to put yourself first. Escape will not solve your problems. Examine your conscience. You know Bob’s time is limited. If your relationship with your children is important, don’t lose sight of the fact that it will be impacted forever. Their sympathies will be with him. If the ethics of that don’t concern you, being involved with a coworker may be a sexual harassment issue, not to mention the damage to your professional reputation and possible job loss. On a more practical level, you and Bob share a financial situation. You could be left with astronomical expenses should you lose your job.
I suggest you back off, support Bob and the children through his illness, and consider your needs when the situation changes. I can’t see how adding another problem to the mix will help. Auntie Linda
P. S. Old Mike sounds like a real buzzard.
Dear Auntie Linda, Our parents had to go in a nursing home a year ago because two of my sisters and I could no longer care for them at home. My father had end-stage lung disease requiring professional care. Mother has early Alzheimer’s Disease. Though she appears fairly functional on visits, she requires constant attendance since she wanders off and can’t manage her daily care. The problem is, my father died three weeks ago. Now, one sister who lives several hours away insists Mother is well enough to return home with some help. Of course, Mother is all for it. The problem of managing her care would fall on me and my two sisters who live near Mother. Even though she appears pleasant and competent, Mother can not be left alone. She was leaving burners on even before she went in the nursing home. Several times we had to go looking for her in all weather. Even though we have made this clear to my sister, she insists Mother can manage with home health. She says we (not her) can check on her a couple of times a day. The responsibility of Mother’s care would fall on those of us who live in town, and we have already tried everything. I am worried my sister will move her home over our objections. What do we do? Exhausted
Dear Exhausted, Make it clear to your sister that you will not accept responsibility for caring for your mother at home. If your sister insists on bringing her home, involve the social worker and adult protection if necessary. Your sister cannot force you to assume responsibility.