Dear Abby: My 92-year-old mother is the most hateful woman you have ever met. My husband and I took her into our home because she could no longer care for herself. She immediately took over everything, telling us what to do, being demanding and complaining that nothing was ever right.
She tried to discipline my well-behaved kids, ages 15 and 21. She attempted to treat them the way she treated us, using foul language, hitting and verbally abusing. My husband and children have called me at work saying I need to get home immediately because Mother was out of control.
We told her we'd cook her meals because she could no longer use the oven. We modeled appropriate examples of interacting with the kids, but she just didn't get it. We finally had to put her in a nursing home.
Now we are wracked with guilt. Did I do the right thing? My siblings didn't want her because of her long history of abuse. I'm in no hurry to visit her at the home, either. Why couldn't she be the kindly grandma and parent that many children have?
-- Guilt-ridden in Tustin, Calif.
Dear Guilt-ridden: Probably because she was modeling behavior she learned from her own mother and possibly because she is demented. Frankly, it was unrealistic to expect that she would suddenly change from the person she has been for the past 92 years into a Disney character -- and I don't mean Cruella De Vil.
Did you do the right thing? All things considered, yes. However, you should not abandon your mother. As a loving daughter -- which you have tried to be -- I'm advising you to try a little harder. Visit her. Bring her something to distract her. If she's able to be moved, take her out for a meal. When she's gone, you, unlike your siblings, will have nothing to regret.
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