Dear Abby: I have ALS, am unable to do anything for myself, much less around the house.

Dear Abby: I have ALS, aka Lou Gehrig’s disease, am wheelchair- or bed-bound, and am unable to do anything for myself, much less around the house. My husband works, and aides come in four days a week for several hours to provide me with personal care.

I have to ask my only sister to help once a month. (She’s older than I am.) When I do, she always puts conditions on the time or complains about the traffic. (She lives an hour away.) I finally told her I’m tired of hearing it and I want her to WANT to help me. Apparently, she was offended, so she’s giving me the silent treatment. She isn’t lazy, but maybe self-centered and lacking in empathy.

I have four older brothers, but only one who lives close — an hour away. When I ask his wife for help, she never hesitates and comes bearing casseroles. The only difference between us three women is that my sister never had children and never experienced the challenges and sacrifices that come with parenting. I’m grateful for any help and always express thanks. Should I be grateful for whatever help she gives me or take her silence as unwillingness to help and move on?

In Need in Pennsylvania

Dear In Need: Of course you should be grateful for whatever help your sister gives. It’s unfortunate that she doesn’t recognize the effect her constant complaints have on you. (You are ill, and she’s a martyr.) Considering the challenges you face every day, it’s a shame she doesn’t have it in her to be more sensitive, but she doesn’t. If her complaints add additional stress to your situation, you should definitely “move on” if it’s feasible. From your description, your sister-in-law is an angel on earth.

Dear Abby: I have recently unearthed some of my old journals. In them I wrote honestly about my life — my kids, husband, pets, etc. They were a way to vent as well as to describe what my days were like as I kept a home, gardened, worked full time, cared for the kids, etc. A few of the entries concern my spouse who I’m still married to, and they are not flattering. They describe his refusal to help with the chores, his secretive drinking and almost bankrupting us more than once. There are also stories about my children (who are now in their 40s) as children.

I would have loved to know more about my mother’s life and that may be the case with my children. I’m unsure whether to leave them my journals upon my death. The journals might explain a lot of things: why we were always broke, never went on vacations or couldn’t afford the same things their friends had. But I hesitate to make their dad look bad. Should I destroy them or pass them on?

Burn Books or Not

Dear Burn: Your journals are family history. They are also a tribute to the survival of what, at some points, may have been a tumultuous marriage. I am assuming that your husband is sober now and the two of you are financially stable. Pass them on to your children and allow them to form their own judgments.

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.