Join the debate. Vote Now on the Dear Abby Poll of the week.

by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: My beloved aunt died more than a month ago. I found out a few days ago when I called the rest home to check on her prior to the visit I was planning. I was devastated by the news. I felt I had lost a piece of my soul. My aunt and I had been close since I was a small child.

I live several hours away from the rest home and the drive is difficult for me, but I visited her as often as I could, and we would talk for hours. My sister, who lives much closer, has been taking care of this aunt on a day-to-day basis. Many years ago, my husband and my sister had a conflict that put a rift between us. However, we had been able to put the rift aside a couple of times for family functions.

My sister made all the arrangements for my aunt's funeral, but she never even told me that our aunt had died. I had to learn of Aunty's death from a nurse long after the funeral. I know my aunt would have wanted me there.

Abby, I could never do such a thing to anyone, and I don't understand how my sister could have been so cruel as to keep this from me. Is there any justification for this? Even if my sister had a problem with my husband, our aunt loved us both, and aren't her wishes the ones that should have been respected?

I hope your answer will provide me with some understanding and help me live with the pain. -- DEVASTATED IN IOWA

DEAR DEVASTATED: Of course your aunt's wishes should have been respected. I see absolutely no justification for your sister's cruelty. If you sincerely want to resolve this injustice, ask your sister to explain her behavior. She OWES you an explanation.

DEAR ABBY: I am a single, professional woman. Last year I met a man in the laundry room of our apartment building. He seemed to be the man of my dreams. He asked me if I was married. I'm not, and he isn't either. To make a long story short, we got involved.

He has been married four times and has 10 children, seven of whom are grown and gone. He told me he wanted to be a minister, but his behavior is far from what one would expect from a minister.

He has been divorced from his last wife for eight years, but talks about her constantly. And he spends quite a bit of time with another ex-wife who is the mother of three of his children.

I have been a faithful friend. We go to the movies or out to dinner when he has time, but he has never made an effort to take me away for a weekend.

Abby, he told me he had talked to a married woman in our complex about going fishing with him. I told him I thought that was inappropriate. He also mentioned that he was considering going away to meet a 25-year-old female friend. I know he gives his phone number to every woman he meets.

How can he say he cares for me when he acts this way toward so many women? I am in love with him, but I find his behavior appalling and I'm not happy. I keep hanging on because no one else has entered my life.

Do you think this man is worth hanging onto as a potential mate? -- FRUSTRATED IN MELVILLE

DEAR FRUSTRATED: This man deserves points for honesty. He has made it clear that he's not interested in a permanent relationship. As a potential mate, he is not worth hanging onto.

Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

4520 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64111; (816) 932-6600