My brother did not tell me.

Mom lives in a senior’s building and recently needed emergency surgery. Without the surgery she would have died.

My brother and I have not spoken in years. He has POA for her. My brother did not bother to tell me about how sick Mom was or that surgery even happened. I only learned about all of this from my aunt. How can I get my brother to tell me when things like this happen?


Dear Chris:

Clearly your brother has no need to communicate with you. Most likely he thinks that you are useless and that you simply do not care about your Mom. His resentment for you will have only grown over the years. In his mind he believes that he is the only one who cares and the only one who does anything for your Mother. He is the good son, you are the bad son.

You may not ever be able to re-build the relationship with your brother, but you can do some things to show that you care about your mother. In fact, you will need to prove to him that you care. Here are a few ways to show him that you care:

Go visit your mother more often. Make sure you leave things in her room as proof that you were there. Take along some recent family photos, birthday cards, etc. This will at least prove that you have shown up lately. Your brother will notice the items that you left. Of course visitng her is the best way to check on her.

If you live out of town, develop a habit of mailing the above mentioned items to your mother. Even if she is unaware of what you are sending, these items will stay in your mother’s room. The staff where she lives may tell your brother about your cards and gifts.

Ask your aunt (or other family members) about how your mother is doing. Your aunt may mention your inquires to your brother.

At some point you could also call your brother just to ask: “Is there anything I can do to help you or Mom? Expect only negative comments, but keep at it. Your polite persistence with your brother along with your cards and letters may someday have a positive effect.

You need to keep this activity going as long as you mother is alive. The purpose for trying to re-build the relationship with your brother is to be better kept in the loop about her life. After she is dead, then you can decide how much (if any) effort you want to invest into re-building a relationship with him. At that point you may decide that it is just not worth it. However until she dies, you need to make greater efforts to show him that you do care. You need to prove that you have earned the right to know how she is doing.

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