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by Abigail Van Buren

Widow's Charming Escort Appears to Be a Cheat

DEAR ABBY: I'm a widow in my 60s, and I'm beginning to think I'm the biggest fool in the world.

After my dear husband died two years ago, I convinced myself I would never get involved with another man. I needed peace after nursing my mate through five traumatic years of cancer and a painful death.

A year ago, I met a charming man my age at church with whom I had many interests in common. He asked me out right after we met, and we have been a happy twosome ever since. He owns his own home a short distance from mine, and we've had a marvelous relationship in all ways. He told me he was divorced and that his ex-wife lived 3,000 miles away in another state.

However, after he told me that he had four unmarried, grown children but didn't feel comfortable telling them about me, I became suspicious. When he visits them in another state, he asks me not to write or call him because they "wouldn't understand." My children and grandchildren like him very much, as do all my friends.

Finally, I asked him outright if he were, indeed, divorced. After a long pause he replied, "Not yet." (After a eight-year separation!)

Noticing our friendship, church members began to approach me and advise me to back off and not get hurt. I was told he had been involved with another woman at the church for a long time before he met me, and that they had broken up for unknown reasons. The reason for this occurred to me -- that she didn't want to be caught in a dead-end relationship, either.

Abby, this man won't tell me straight, but I have this strong feeling that he cheated on his wife during their marriage, and she simply moved far away. He keeps my calendar full of dates and commitments extending far into the future, and I've always had a wonderful time with him. This is apparently the kind of life he wants, but it's not for me.

I am embarrassed and hurt. Do I just say to him, "I want marriage or nothing"? I am so emotionally entangled that an abrupt severing seems beyond my ability. Fragile as it is, I feel that we have something of great value together, but I only visualize an empty future together. Your thoughts, please. -- IN LIMBO IN WASHINGTON

DEAR IN LIMBO: Politely put, your charming escort is a cad and a liar, and I'm sorry your heart is hurting because of his dishonesty. You deserve better.

Ask him to come clean and tell you if he and his wife are really washed up or not. You seem like a lovely woman with terrific instincts, and you already know what you have to do.

DEAR ABBY: Here's another solution for the woman whose neighbor uses her hose and water to water his own lawn and shrubs. Most faucet handles have a screw in the middle. Even without the screw, you can use the faucet. And when you're done, the handle can be removed and taken into the house. It worked for us. -- SHARON L., PUYALLUP, WASH.

DEAR SHARON: Thank you for a helpful suggestion. I hope it will help the woman who wrote to stop the drip next door!

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-size, 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, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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