DEAR EXENE: I have never had a good relationship with my mother, who is now 83. But now I am the only family she has left. Her boyfriend recently died, and she lives alone. She has admitted that her eyesight isn't good enough for her to drive, so she gave up her car. She is now very resentful of having to get cab rides to the grocery store, etc. I live about an hour away and have tried to help her, but she refuses to accept anything I try to do and won't give me power of attorney to make sure her bills are paid on time. She thwarts all my attempts to help: I took her to the doctor, and then she refused to pay the bill I negotiated down to a low monthly payment for her. I found a hairdresser who would go to her mobile home to wash, cut and style her hair so she wouldn't have to get a cab to go to a salon, but she refused to let the woman in because she was black. I wish I could say this attitude toward me is due to a mental problem or Alzheimer's, but she has always been this way. I don't want my mom to end up in a homeless shelter because of her bad decisions. What do I do? What are my moral obligations toward an elderly mother who obviously hates me?
DEAR KATYA: Your mother lost her boyfriend—and her independence, to a large extent. That's gotta be hard on her. Right now, she doesn't want your help. It sounds like she doesn't need it. It doesn't sound like you need power of attorney. Of course, you want your mother to be safe. You want to take care of her, advocate for her with the doctor, make sure she can get to the store. However, if your mother has a hairdresser, why did you not call her/him to have her hair done? Is it a new side of your mother, a surprise that she doesn't like "black" people? Maybe you should hang back a little.
Advice: Does she have a friend close by who is willing to help out? How about friends in the trailer park? You could offer gas and salon money, etc., and then stay out of the picture. Then your mother would be getting help, and you wouldn't have to worry.
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