DEAR ABBY: My beautiful wife of 34 years passed away eight months ago. I miss her very much. Her dying wish was that she be cremated, which I respected. She asked that her ashes be scattered at sea, which I will do this summer.

Her ashes are in a beautiful urn in the shape of a vase. After her ashes are spread in the ocean, would it be proper to use her urn as a vase? I would like to display it as a reminder of our love for each other and keep a dozen red roses in it at all times.

I have never seen a discussion of urns before in your column. Just what are you supposed to do with an urn that, in my circumstances, I will be done with after this summer? -- BUS DRIVER IN AUBURN, CALIF.

DEAR BUS DRIVER: Please accept my sympathy for the loss of your wife. I took your question to a wonderful woman named Lisa Carlson, the executive director of the Funeral Ethics Organization. Lisa assured me that it would be "absolutely proper" to use your wife's urn as a vase. Then she added that if you eventually get a girlfriend, you may want to be discreet about the "vase," and if you have children, you might consider passing it on to them as a family heirloom after your own death.

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DEAR ABBY: What is the "proper" way to pass on baby clothes and baby items? I was blessed with a child later in life (I am 40). I will not be having more children.

I gave a lot of clothes to a friend and kept some for sentimental reasons, but my question is this: Items like the swing, vibrating chair and exer-saucer were gifts. Do I have to give them away since they were shower gifts to me? Or is it OK to sell them at a yard sale?

I have a friend who is expecting me to just give her all my stuff. I am torn. Am I being stingy? Or just frugal? Why am I so weird about passing on my baby stuff? Help! -- DANICA IN DALY CITY, CALIF.

DEAR DANICA: When someone receives a gift, whether it be at a holiday or a shower, that item becomes the property of the recipient to do with as she (or he) pleases. I don't think you are being "weird" about your baby things. Your friend is being presumptuous to expect anything, and should be grateful for any items you give her without feeling entitled to more.

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DEAR ABBY: I am a woman with friends of all ages, and I receive lots of phone calls. I like people and enjoy hearing from them. However, several of the "regulars" who call me talk nonstop. As long as I listen, they're fine. But if I try to launch into a subject that interests me, they tell me they're really busy and terminate the call.

How should I interpret this? I have tried laughing it off, but it feels like a put-down. -- FEELING USED IN THE SOUTH

DEAR FEELING USED: It seems you're spending a lot of time on the phone. The people you have described appear to be quite centered on themselves. They appear to be in love with the sound of their own voices, rather than calling to converse -- which implies an exchange of information.

I don't think they are trying to put you down. It's just that in their "universe," listening to someone else is too great an inconvenience. People like this are more interested in an audience than a friendship, so budget your time accordingly.

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