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DEAR ABBY

Son is consumed by regret over treatment of his father

DEAR ABBY: I brought my 68-year-old immigrant father to live with me permanently with the intention of caring for him. He was completely dependent. Halfway through the year, I got angry, told him to move back and vowed to myself I would never ever care for him again. It wasn’t that he did anything wrong; I don’t know why I got so angry.

He wound up living alone, being helped by his friends. I visited him, but I became disconnected. I knew he was suffering, but I couldn’t bring myself to bring him back to live with me. I was extraordinarily cruel, and it hurt him deeply. I let his green card lapse. He passed away two years later.

Since then, I have been overwhelmed with guilt. As a son, I should have cared for my father. I am depressed over my actions. I am a horrible son. I have been crying and asking for forgiveness. Please tell me how I can move forward. — GUILT-RIDDEN IN THE WEST

DEAR GUILT-RIDDEN: Performing the role of caregiver is an enormous undertaking. While it can be rewarding, it can also be exhausting, unrelenting and stressful. Caregivers have been known to lose their tempers because of the pressure, but because you had bitten off more than you could chew, your reaction was extreme.

If you are religious, talk about this with your clergyperson. If you aren’t, please consider scheduling some appointments with a licensed mental health professional who can help you more fully understand what happened between you and your father and help you cope with your guilt. And in the future — once you are able — consider atoning by volunteering for a charity that serves the elderly.

DEAR ABBY: I have been married to a functioning alcoholic for more than 30 years. He was once funny and nice and a good dad. But over the years he has become unbearable to live with. He doesn’t shower or brush his teeth. He was always mainly a beer drinker, but now he is drinking hard liquor and stays drunk most of the time he is awake.

I told him I thought he was depressed and a severe alcoholic, and he should talk to his doctor, but he refuses. He walks around cursing under his breath, and nobody wants to be around him. I keep him off the road when he has been drinking, but I’m terrified he will hurt someone. I am pretty sure he is drinking on the job, and I’m scared he will hurt himself. I am ready to leave him, but afraid that if I do, he will be completely lost. Please guide me. — LOST IN THE SOUTH

DEAR LOST: You don’t need me to tell you that your husband is in bad shape. I don’t know what his job involves, but if he’s interacting with others, I am surprised he can get away with having such poor hygiene and being stoned on alcohol.

Because he refuses to talk to his doctor about this, you should. I hope you are beginning to realize that, on the path he is on, you cannot “save” him. I have mentioned Al-Anon many times in my column. The organization is an offshoot of Alcoholics Anonymous and was started to help families and friends of individuals who are unable to control their drinking. You will gain insight about what to do next if you attend some of their meetings. Find one by going to al-anon.org/info.

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 www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

CELEBRITY BIRTHDAYS

Singer Lloyd Price is 88. Actress Joyce Van Patten is 87. Country singer Mickey Gilley is 85. Singer-musician John Cale (The Velvet Underground) is 79. Singer Mark Lindsay (Paul Revere and the Raiders) is 79. Former ABC anchorman Charles Gibson is 78. Rock guitarist Robin Trower (Procol Harum) is 76. Singer Jeffrey Osborne is 73. Actress Linda Fiorentino is 63. Actress Juliette Binoche is 57. Actor Emmanuel Lewis (“Webster”) is 50. Actor Oscar Isaac is 42. Rapper Chingy is 41. Actress Brittany Snow is 35. Rapper Bow Wow is 34. Rapper YG is 31.

TODAY'S HOROSCOPE

Refuse to let change throw you off guard this year. Accept the inevitable, and keep moving forward. You’ll find new ways to use your talents. Keeping up, staying informed and projecting a positive attitude will attract attention. Surround yourself with projects that promote personal growth.

PISCES (Feb. 20-March 20) — Take the initiative to address issues that are slowing you down. Focus on efficiency and productivity so you can accomplish what you set out to do. A change of heart will pay off.

ARIES (March 21-April 19) — Adapt to change and go about your business. Embrace new beginnings with enthusiasm. How you use your energy to get things done will help you gain support and the respect you desire.

TAURUS (April 20-May 20) — Keep your life simple and your promises practical. Refuse to let your emotions get in the way of common sense. Focus on self-improvement instead of trying to change others.

GEMINI (May 21-June 20) — Don’t let down your guard, even if someone is complimentary or seductive. Be wary when someone turns on the charm or uses emotional tactics to take advantage of you.

CANCER (June 21-July 22) — Educate yourself before sharing your opinion. Change can be helpful if it saves you money, improves your health or helps you make a difference. Nurture a meaningful relationship.

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22) — Look for the right opportunity. Don’t let someone talk you into something that will benefit them, not you. Carefully choose with whom you associate. A partnership must be equitable.

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22) — Learn through observation, and make adjustments that will help you attain a better position. An older or established individual will offer insight. Don’t be afraid to try something new.

LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 23) — Be receptive to suggestions. Focus on education, communication and expanding your interests and circle of friends. Let your curiosity and desire for mental stimulation lead.

SCORPIO (Oct. 24-Nov. 22) — Pace yourself, think matters through and look at all sides of a situation. Focus on what’s possible, and you’ll find unique ways to evade tricky situations. Make peace and love priorities.

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 23-Dec. 21) — Focus on how you earn your living or manage your money. Be wary of people taking advantage of you or not being honest about their long-term plans. You may have to go it alone, at least for a while.

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19) — Take care of yourself. Start a fitness routine that encourages you to pay close attention to diet and lifestyle, and it will lift your spirits and confidence.

AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 19) — Discipline, hard work and persistence will be necessary today. Getting along and keeping the peace will make your life easier. Consider what’s important to you and work to achieve it.

NEWS OF THE WEIRD

By Chuck Sheppard

The Continuing Crisis: Two Florida residents, Brian Montalvo Tolentino, 43, of Davenport and Juan Burgos-Lopez, 39, of Lake Wales, admitted to police they had removed four human skulls from tombs they had robbed in Mount Dora, WKMG-TV reported. Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd told local media on Jan. 8 that detectives serving a search warrant on Burgos-Lopez’s property found a shed containing a ritualistic shrine and seven skulls the men told authorities they used in the practice of the Palo Mayombe religion. Three of the four graves robbed were of members of the armed forces because, Judd said, Lopez told authorities “the spirit is much stronger in a hero” and “it can protect you from evil.” Before vandalizing the graves, Judd added, the men drank rum and spit it on the ground, then smoked a cigar and exhaled the smoke “to protect them from the spirits.” DNA on the cigars led authorities to the suspects.

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