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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I am at my wit's end concerning a widow at our church. This woman should know better because her late husband was a minister.

Every Sunday, she makes a point of looking for my husband and me, and she's constantly touching and flirting with him. He is very uncomfortable with her behavior and runs the other way when he sees her coming. Many times she waits for us at the back of the church where we pick up our nametags.

Neither of us can understand why a Sunday school teacher so well versed in the Scriptures would act like she does. We can't discuss this with anyone at church, so what would you suggest? If you print my letter, perhaps she will read it and see herself. -- IRRITATED IN MINNEAPOLIS

DEAR IRRITATED: It seems that you think the widow is "coveting" more than the Ten Commandments allow. She is obviously lonely and probably needs verification that she is still attractive to men.

Since your husband isn't interested in her and you see her only once a week, please show some compassion. And should you happen to know an eligible man, for heaven's sake, introduce him to her!

DEAR ABBY: I've had it with my mother-in-law, who has come to live with us. I recall that some time ago, you printed a letter from a woman who had also been made miserable by her widowed mother who had come to live with her. The writer said she had come up with some rules for herself, which she would observe if she ever found herself having to live with her children.

Abby, never in my wildest dreams did I think I would need those rules, but times have changed. Will you please reprint it? -- HAD IT IN WASHINGTON STATE

DEAR HAD IT: Certainly. That letter is timeless:

DEAR ABBY: Years ago, when my widowed mother came to live with my husband and me, she made our lives so miserable that I determined that I would never bring such misery to my children if I ever had to live with them.

One day I sat down and wrote myself a letter. In it were some pertinent rules, and on the outside of the envelope I wrote, "To be opened on the day I go to live with my daughter, heaven forbid." I tucked it away in an old book and forgot about it.

I've been widowed and self-sufficient for six years, but I was recently forced to give up my job and go live with my oldest daughter. I've opened that letter, and I think your older readers might benefit from it, as I intend to.

The rules are as follows:

-- Give what you can toward your keep. Any budget will stretch just so far.

-- Keep yourself clean and neat.

-- Remember, it is their home. Be especially considerate of him. He allowed her to bring you here.

-- Give them privacy at every opportunity.

-- If they want to go away on a vacation but are hesitant because of you, offer to visit another relative or friend so they can be free to go.

-- Don't offer any advice or express any opinions unless asked.

-- Volunteer information that they might be too embarrassed to ask for, such as arrangements for your burial, hospitalization, etc.

These rules were written more than 20 years ago. I read them often and am determined to keep them. -- WIDOW X

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