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by Abigail Van Buren

Frolicsome Father in Law Puts Frown on Family Faces

DEAR ABBY: My mother-in-law (I'll call her Nora) died after a long battle with cancer. After the funeral, everyone came back to the house, and it turned into the party of the year.

Five months later, my father-in-law began dating Nora's best friend, "Zelda." One month later, they were engaged. Two months later, Zelda moved in. They plan to marry in March.

My father-in-law acts like he's 18 years old. Dad and Zelda are an embarrassment in public. Since Nora passed away, Dad seems relieved that he can get on with his life.

I am very upset about this, but it is hard since we live only five miles away. Is this normal behavior? -- DAUGHTER-IN-LAW IN ILLINOIS

DEAR DAUGHTER-IN-LAW: Not everyone reacts to death in the same way. Some people are so depressed they can barely function without medical assistance. Emotions, which are very close to the surface, sometimes become confused. Laughing jags occur when one might expect tears. Some religious groups concentrate on the positive aspects, choosing to celebrate life and the fact that the deceased is no longer suffering.

It's not unusual for a grieving spouse to find solace with a close friend of the deceased, nor is it unheard of to want to live life to its fullest after witnessing the death of a loved one.

DEAR ABBY: I'm addressing my comments to "No Name, Please," the widow whose older gentleman friend is taking advantage of her, living in her house and letting her pay all the bills:

Dear No Name Please: Get that freeloading "gentleman friend" out of your home immediately, before he becomes ill or disabled. If he gets sick, or reaches the point where he needs a lot of personal care and you allow yourself to start taking care of him, you'll be turned into a slave and will probably not receive any recompense for your slavery.

He does not sound in the least like a gentleman to me. He is using you. The fact that he won't pay his share of expenses and will not sign a prenuptial contract says loud and clear that he intends to take you for everything he can get.

Perhaps if he were alone in the world, I might have some sympathy for him, but he has two sons. Whether they like it or not, it is up to them to make arrangements for their father. Do not let the sons talk you into taking care of that freeloader. Whatever they promise could be as unreliable as his promises to share the expenses.

Get him out of the house now! Then, consult with your lawyer about sending him a bill for his share of the expenses for all the time he lived in your house -- including the taxes you paid.

Last but not least, look into getting some protection for your assets by buying long-term health-care insurance. The younger you are, the cheaper the premiums will be. Look carefully at the various insurance plans that are available. Buy coverage that provides a certain amount of money that you can use for care either in your own home or in a nursing home. -- MARGARET G. SMITH, ROSEVILLE, MICH.

DEAR MARGARET: That's straight-from-the-shoulder advice, and I hope that "No Name, Please" heeds it. However, she also stated that before she met this man she was so lonely she was climbing the walls, and when he came along he filled a void in her life. Sometimes people are so lonely they will tolerate being used rather than face being alone.

What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS, and getting along with peers and parents is in "What Every Teen Should Know." To order, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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