Man can no longer support his ne’er-do-well brother

Published 8:13 am Friday, April 5, 2024

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DEAR ABBY: My brother (eight years younger) has been hooked on drugs and in and out of jail for decades. Our father passed away five years ago. My brother lived with him in a different state until then. Prior to that, he stole from our mother and from me repeatedly. 

He’s a criminal and is currently in jail. When he’s not in jail, he is homeless. Of course, the only time we hear from him is when he needs money. To top it off, my special-needs son recently passed away. Of course, my wife and I are devastated, although we have come to terms with the fact that he is in a better place. 

With my brother back in jail, the focus has gone back to him. I have always tried to be a good brother, but I have now completely washed my hands of him. At this point, I need peace in my life, and as long as he is in mine, I will never have it. This crushes my mother, but it’s how I feel. Right or wrong, I don’t feel that just because someone is family, it gives them the right to make others miserable. I would love to know your thoughts on this. – BETTER BROTHER IN FLORIDA

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DEAR BROTHER: Please accept my sympathy for the loss of your beloved son. That you feel you cannot handle the added stress of interacting with or supporting your drug-addicted brother (who has stolen from you) is understandable. 

Do not allow your mother to guilt you into doing anything with which you are uncomfortable. If your mother decides to take him in when he’s released, caution her to first remove any items of value from her home.


DEAR ABBY: Four years ago, a former friend, “Karla,” offered me a nice oak side chair of hers. Karla said she had no use for it and assured me she wouldn’t want it back. I accepted the chair and have used it since then. 

When it was given to me, the back cushion was missing and the seat cushion was hard. After a couple of years, I bought nice fabric and had the chair repaired and reupholstered. It cost me $175. If I had thought the chair was on loan only, I wouldn’t have done that. I sent her a pic of the finished improvements, and she replied that it looked nice. 

A year later, she abruptly ended our friendship. She was angry with me because I had confused her airport arrival time and she had to wait an hour. Twice I apologized profusely, but Karla has not responded. (That was 14 months ago.) 

Ten days ago, I received a text from one of her friends, telling me Karla wants me to return the chair she “let me borrow.” The friend wanted to know when I could deliver it. I’m completely taken aback. She GAVE it to me! What is your take on this pickle? – BAFFLED IN TEXAS


DEAR BAFFLED: Ignore the text. If Karla wants the chair returned, she should ask you herself. If she does, and if you agree to it, be sure she repays IN CASH the money you spent to have the chair refurbished.


Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.


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