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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: My father, who is in his 60s, has a very controlling personality. He is also a hoarder. He refuses to throw anything away, and the rooms of his house are piled high with junk, old newspapers and magazines. He can never find anything. He has "misplaced" his checkbook, and many bills go unpaid because he misplaces them, too. His insurance was just canceled for nonpayment of the premium. When I tried to help him organize this mess, I found unopened mail and traveler's checks mixed in with his junk.

He gets furious with me for interfering and becomes nasty with the whole family if someone throws away an outdated newspaper or magazine. He says he plans to read them and wants them stacked in the rooms or basement until he's ready for them.

I dread the day when I will be stuck sorting this mound of trash. Please advise me if there is a solution to this problem. -- FRUSTRATED WITH PAPA HOARDER

DEAR FRUSTRATED: Your father is not competent to live alone. He can no longer handle his finances, and the accumulation of junk makes his home a fire hazard and probably a health hazard as well. Stacks of papers and other junk are havens for rodents and insect pests.

Talk to an attorney. Someone (probably you) should be appointed to manage your father's finances and have the authority to get someone to look after him, or to place him in a care facility.

Don't delay -- the time to act is now!

DEAR ABBY: I am 20 years old and am in college, as is my fiance. "Jack" is working his way through college. He comes from a poor but decent churchgoing family.

I am very close to my mother's sister ("Aunt Ida"), and when she heard that I had become engaged but did not get an engagement ring, she and "Uncle Ted" took it upon themselves to buy a beautiful (fake) diamond ring. Jack and I were invited to their home, where she handed Jack the ring to put on my finger.

Jack turned bright red, became very angry and didn't mince words. He told them that he didn't like to deceive people, and when he could afford to buy a ring, he would buy me one and it would be the real thing.

Now my mother is angry and isn't talking to Aunt Ida and Uncle Ted, and I'm caught in the middle. I know they meant well, but I feel terrible that my relatives put such importance on appearances. How can I defuse this situation? -- ENGAGED WITHOUT A RING

DEAR ENGAGED WITHOUT A RING: You appear to be a sensible young woman with excellent values. To defuse the situation, ask your mother to forgive Aunt Ida and Uncle Ted, because you already have.

DEAR ABBY: I need your advice. I love my job and it pays well, but I have a problem I really need to resolve.

My boss -- a male -- opens all my mail. It is clearly addressed to me and marked "personal."

I think this is rude and unacceptable. Please print this, as he reads your column every day. -- ANNOYED IN COLORADO

DEAR ANNOYED: You should have your personal mail addressed to your home.

DEAR ABBY: Every so often you suggest appropriate gifts for senior citizens who don't need more bric-a-brac or perfume.

My granddaughter, who lives in California, gave me the perfect gift. She arranged for me to get unlimited taxi service. I bless her daily for her thoughtfulness. -- GRATEFUL GRANDMA, ST. JAMES, N.Y.

For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more attractive person, order "How to Be Popular." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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