DEAR ABBY: Owen and I have been married for 30 years. My mother has lived with us for 27 of them. We moved in with Mom to help her with expenses after Dad passed away. Five years later, we bought our own house and invited her to come with us. She has always been helpful. Other than a lack of privacy, the arrangement has worked out well. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I always thought she would remarry.

Owen lost his job of 28 years a year ago, and I recently was laid off from the place I had worked for 15 years. I recently took a part-time job to pay for groceries.

My two sisters and brothers have done nothing to help in the support of our mother. I feel that Owen and I have been cheated out of a normal marriage. Our children are grown now, so when is it OUR time? Mom is in her mid-70s. I would never tell her how I feel because it would hurt her terribly. When she finally passes away, I don’t think I’ll ever speak to my siblings again because the older I get the angrier I become. The only reason I see them now is because Mom wouldn’t understand my disgust with them. What should I do? – BITTER UP NORTH

DEAR BITTER: Your mother has been living with you for so long that your siblings probably have no idea that you feel the frustration you have described. They may need to be reminded that your financial situation has changed and that you need their monetary help, or just a break from your mother and some private time with your spouse.

You are a devoted daughter, but please do not continue to suffer in silence. I’m not suggesting that you talk about this to your mother, but a conversation with your siblings is long overdue.

DEAR ABBY: I don’t know what to do. My friend and I were told by someone that stealing is just borrowing without asking and it’s OK. So we “borrowed” candy from a vendor and ate it.

We now know this is wrong. What should we do – apologize? We don’t want to get caught. – MISLED IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR MISLED: For the record, “borrowing” is taking something with the lender’s permission and then returning it. In your case, you and your friend ate the vendor’s candy and the person suffered a loss.

You owe the vendor an apology and payment for the candy you stole. Ideally, it should be done in person. However, if you are afraid or ashamed to face the vendor, write him or her an anonymous note of apology and include payment for what you took.

DEAR ABBY: My wife and I used to have a problem with kids sitting on the stone wall in front of our house and smoking cigarettes. Nothing would dissuade them, and our lawn was continually littered with butts.

Finally, I found a motion-sensor water sprinkler, and whenever the smokers came into the yard the sprinkler would activate. That solved our problem without confrontation.

Thanks for your steady good sense every day. – TOM IN NUTTING LAKE, MASS.

DEAR TOM: Your solution is intriguing because it has probably discouraged more than smokers. I’ll bet those sudden bursts of water also keep your yard free from deposits left by pets running loose in the neighborhood.

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

To order “How to Write Letters for All Occasions,” send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby – Letter Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447.

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