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by Abigail Van Buren

Woman Shouldn't Rush to Put Untimely Death Behind Her

DEAR ABBY: I am 24 years old and was dating a man a few years older. "Rick" and I dated for two years, and lived together almost a year and a half. About six months ago, Rick was killed in a motorcycle accident. Had he lived, he would have been the one I married and spent the rest of my life with.

Here's my problem: Although I loved Rick with all my heart, I know that I am young and will have other relationships. I'll never forget Rick, and I'll carry him in my heart. I don't want to hurt Rick's family or give them the idea that I don't respect his memory.

I have been doing things with a male "friend" of mine, and it may get serious. Is it too soon? I know that the only one who can know that is me, but how do I handle the public relations aspect? Rick is gone, and my life must go on. -- CONFUSED

DEAR CONFUSED: It's all right to begin dating, but if you're considering living with this "friend" or making any announcements, I suggest that you slow down. Do nothing in haste, including an announcement to Rick's grieving family that you now have a relationship that may get serious. You are very vulnerable right now. Not only do you need time to heal from your loss, this new relationship needs time to develop.

DEAR ABBY: I am writing to share an idea with your readers. I am currently an at-home mom with a 3-year-old daughter. I encourage her to do various craft projects. I couldn't save all of them and felt guilty throwing them in the trash. So we started a monthly project of making her crafts into tray favors (cards and bookmarks) for the local Meals on Wheels program. The organization is very appreciative of the crafts that brighten the days for many seniors. My daughter is also learning how she can positively impact her community. -- JOANNA VELASCO, PLACENTIA, CALIF.

DEAR JOANNA: What a charming idea! Your daughter is forunate to have a mother as imaginative as you. At the rate she's going, your little girl will be a recognized artist by the time she is out of kindergarten.

DEAR ABBY: I'm glad that "Lucky Old Guy in Oregon" thinks he's so lucky. Personally, if my spouse "whacked" me every time I lit a cigarette (or did anything that HE judged to be "unhealthful"), or yelled at me and gave me half-hour lectures if I cheated a little on my diet, I think I would find death to be a welcome escape from him.

My husband and I look out for each other's health. Our greatest wish is that we can happily, and with mutual respect, grow old together. The difference between us and "Old Guy" is that he seems to relish his wife's disciplinary tactics. His "loving" wife sounds like a major control freak to me, and he's a whipped doormat.

Abby, does this sound like a marriage of mutual respect and love? Would you want to be in "Old Guy"'s shoes? Just because he has lived a long life doesn't make him "lucky." Some inmates in prison live to be very old, too! -- LUCKIER STILL IN CANYON COUNTRY, CALIF.

DEAR LUCKIER: Your letter made me smile. It's difficult to argue with success, but it does make one wonder if "Lucky Old Guy" would be healthier if he had assumed the personal responsibility for disciplining himself instead of relying on his wife's orders to adhere to a diet and exercise plan.

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