OUR children have grown up and left home, and my husband and I have really been looking forward to having some time together at last. We had planned a holiday this summer, I had signed up for an Open University course, and we felt a new life was beginning for both of us. But two months ago my father died. I am the only child, and my 75-year-old mother has become ill and confused. She lives too far away for me to visit more than once a month, and to be honest, she is, even at the best of times, extremely difficult.

As her only daughter, and because I did love her once, I feel I have a duty to have her to live with us. I think endlessly of putting her into a home, but I cannot bear it. At the same time, my husband has never been able to stand her. She and he have never got on, and she is capable of making barbed personal remarks and winding him up. He has, quite understandably, got into such a state about having her here, saying that it would ruin everything, that I feel completely torn in two.

I couldn't live with myself if I didn't care for her, but I am not sure that my husband could live with me if I did. Has anyone else had a similar situation? Can anyone offer any help?

Yours sincerely, Naomi

Please send your comments and suggestions to me at the Features Department, the Independent, 40 City Road, London EC1Y 2DB (fax 071-956 1739) by Tuesday morning. And if you have any dilemmas of your own that you would like to share with readers, let me know. I will report back next Thursday.

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