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

by Abigail Van Buren

Daughters and Their Dad's Money Are Not Soon Parted

DEAR ABBY: In January of 1994, my loving wife and best friend of 47 years passed away. I was devastated, but I am also realistic. I was 71, healthy, virile, fun-loving and enjoyed life.

A little over a month after my wife's funeral, I was tired of being alone and went to a resort. I met a lovely woman there, and a few weeks later, I called and invited her to dinner. We spent more than six hours talking, sharing a couple of small glasses of wine, and were more interested in each other than the food.

When I got home, I received a call from my younger daughter and was given the third degree. It was only the beginning. In spite of the interference, this lady and I continued to enjoy each other's company. We lived together for a year and a half and then married.

I gave my daughters one of our family trusts to allay their fear that someone might get something they thought was all theirs. It didn't help. They continued to drive a wedge between my wife and me. I later discovered they put a tap on my phone. So, where did all this lead? You guessed it. Divorce court.

It has been a year and a half; I recently met a lady on the Internet. We have been writing and talking on the phone almost daily. Three weeks ago, we met in Paris and spent a great week together. No sex was involved -- just a great time. The lady plans to come here to visit. Tonight my younger daughter informed me she intends to run her off.

As far as my daughters are concerned, I don't need a friend, a companion or wife. They are worried that someone besides them will get whatever I have left. They tell me I don't need anyone; just our family is enough. I love my grandchildren, but to be honest, I don't need my children running my life.

Abby, the lady in question is in her late 50s, is well-educated, entertaining, intelligent, and has a good job in her home country. I hate to put her through what they did to my previous wife. Should I sell everything I have and move to a different city or country? -- DESPERATE FOR A LIFE OF MY OWN

DEAR DESPERATE: It is unlikely your daughters will ever accept any woman in your life. Achieving your independence will mean you will have to separate from your daughters -- and it's likely you'll have to sacrifice your relationship with your grandchildren. I urge you to talk this entire situation over with your attorney. As your new relationship progresses, the woman will need to be protected from your daughters no matter how far from them you move.

DEAR ABBY: I just finished reading the letter from Thom Somes of Pet Tech Inc. The information he provided concerning pet first aid was invaluable. However, I would like to expand on one of his facts.

The leading cause of death in companion animals is NOT preventable accidents. It is euthanasia. According to the Humane Society of the United States, an estimated 4 million to 6 million companion animals are euthanized every year in America's animal shelters.

There are two simple solutions to the problem of pet overpopulation and the needless killing of adoptable animals: Have your pet spayed or neutered, and always have an up-to-date identification tag on your pet.

Thank you for getting the word out, Abby. -- JACK FISHER, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, LEE COUNTY (ALA.) HUMANE SOCIETY

DEAR JACK: You're welcome. If my readers take your message to heart -- and I'm sure many of them will -- countless lives of companion animals will be saved.

Dear Abby is written by Pauline Phillips and daughter Jeanne Phillips.

Abby shares more than 100 of her favorite recipes in two booklets: "Abby's Favorite Recipes" and "More Favorite Recipes by Dear Abby." Send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $10 (U.S. funds)

to: Dear Abby -- Cookbooklet Set, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in price.)

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