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Annie’s mailbox: Caring daughter can’t control parents’ spending

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Dear Annie: My parents are not in good health. They live off their Social Security checks and take care of my 42-year-old disabled sister. My 38-year-old brother, "George," has a wife and children of his own but still gets money from my parents. They've spent thousands of dollars on his cars, house down payments, etc.

George recently told my parents he has cancer and would like them to give him money so he can stay home with his children and live rent-free. He expects my parents to mortgage their paid-for house and give him whatever money they had planned as his inheritance. He figures the sum to be $20,000.

I feel sorry for my brother, but the doctor hasn't said his cancer is terminal, so who knows what will happen. My parents barely make ends meet. My husband handles their funds and makes sure they have enough to live on.

Mom is now trying to persuade Dad to mortgage the house. I've threatened to remove my sister from my parents' home if my mother keeps acting as if George is her only child. They expect me to take my sister when they die, but I'd have to build an addition to my house in order for her to stay with me, and they aren't planning to give me any money for her care.

I've never asked my parents for anything, and my husband and I are always the ones who solve their problems. If they mortgage the house, they'll never be able to manage the payments and will eventually lose their home, but my mother is willing to do anything to help George. Now what? — Tired of the Drama

Dear Tired: You've been a wonderful and caring daughter, but you can't prevent your parents from being foolish with their money. It's time to take a giant step back. You and your husband should speak to them about your concerns and, if possible, set up a trust account for your sister's care. Then let them do whatever they're going to do. If they lose the house, so be it.

Dear Annie: My sister just announced the happy news that she is engaged and plans to marry in the next year or so. Unfortunately, she has decided to have the wedding at a trendy resort atop Pike's Peak.

Annie, most of the family lives hundreds of miles away from Colorado, and my sister doesn't seem to care that we can't afford the trek. How can we persuade her to consider the feelings of her relatives who aren't lucky enough to fall into her tax bracket? I've missed out on a lot of special events and holidays in the past several years, and I really don't want to miss her wedding. — Bummed Out in Minnesota

Dear Minnesota: Your parents should inform their daughter that it would be a hardship on friends and family members to attend a destination wedding. We hope they can persuade her to be more inclusive and understand that the "ideal" wedding is less about location and more about the people who share the occasion. You also should tell her that, much as you love her, you don't believe you will be able to attend due to the distance and expense. Of course, Colorado isn't that far away from Minnesota, and if you start saving your pennies now, you might be able to get there and find modest accommodations. But if not, wish your sister the best and try to mean it.

Dear Annie: I read the letters about what to call someone's live-in companion. Speaking of those indefinable relationships, my cousin would introduce his long-time lady love as follows: "This is my umm ... er ... ah ... Mary."

Henceforth, everyone in the family with someone special in their lives would refer to that person as "My Ummerah." — Danbury, Conn.

Dear Danbury: Sounds very exotic. Thanks for the laugh.

Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to anniesmailbox@comcast.net, or write to: Annie's Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611. © Creators Syndicate Inc.