DEAR ABBY: My husband passed away 11 months ago. A former co-worker advised me to take a trip to "get away from it all." I took her advice and went on the trip of a lifetime, to Greece, in September.
While I was on this trip, I met "Richard," a gentleman who had lost his wife. We hit it off and spent a lot of time getting acquainted. At one point, he bought me an expensive gift, which I tried to refuse, but he insisted I keep it. It was something I had admired but was too costly for my budget. I am not poor; I own my home, car, have some savings and own some stock. I live on a fairly small widow's pension, but if I budget and am careful I'll do fine.
After we returned to the states, Richard called me regularly, sent me flowers when I was hospitalized and has generally been a good friend. The problem is his daughter, "Liz." She dislikes me intensely.
Richard arranged to visit me for a week to meet my friends and family. They thought he was terrific and were happy for us. When I went to visit him, he had a welcome poster printed and hung in his living room. When Liz saw the poster, she tore it down and threw it in the garbage. She informed me that she did not welcome me and thought I was a "fortune hunter." She even threatened to hit me!
Liz tried to convince her father to give her power of attorney while he was out of town, as she has been handling his finances for him. His sister advised him not to let his daughter run his life, and that he should take Liz's name off his checking account and take care of his own bills. Of course, Liz thinks this was my idea. I tried to explain to her that I have no designs on her father's money, if he has any, and that we're just good friends who enjoy traveling together.
When we first got together, I told Richard I would not see him if his daughter objected. The problem is, he told me he would just "give up on life" if we couldn't see each other, and he'd rather be dead than lonely.
Abby, I am 56; Richard is 72. He lives in Michigan and I live in Montana, and neither of us wants to remarry, as it would complicate our lives.
Any advice you can give me will be greatly appreciated. -- LONELY IN MONTANA
DEAR LONELY: Do not for one moment think that this is about you. It's about money. Since Liz pays all of her father's bills, she is aware of the expensive gift he gave you, and obviously views you as a threat to her inheritance. Unless Richard wants his daughter running his life, he needs to take control of his financial affairs.
I see no reason for you and Richard to end your friendship or forgo traveling together because of his daughter's determination to control him. My advice to both of you: Listen to your hearts.
CONFIDENTIAL TO HURT IN JUNEAU: Perhaps you misunderstood your friend. It's possible that what she said was intended as a compliment. Consider the sage words of Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. (1841-1935) in Towne vs. Eisner (Jan. 7, 1918): "A word is not a crystal, transparent and unchanging; it is the skin of a living thought and may vary greatly in color and content according to the circumstances and the time in which it is used."
To receive a collection of Abby's most memorable -- and most frequently requested -- poems and essays, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby's "Keepers," P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)
4520 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64111; (816) 932-6600