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by Abigail Van Buren

Mom died suddenly in June of 1982, a mere three months after we helped my parents celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary. Seeing Dad so broken and old at the funeral, we ached for him and worried about his health and future. Silly us! By the end of the year, he called to inform us that he was seeing "Jane," a widowed longtime friend, and that they were being married. I was speechless (a rare occurrence, according to my wife), but quickly gave my blessing along with my brother and two sisters. We knew that Mom and Dad were soulmates, but if Dad was lucky enough to find love again, who were we to deny him?

Dad passed away last June, three months after we celebrated his 80th birthday. We're heartbroken, but our grief is tempered by thoughts of Dad's happy and full 18 years spent with Jane. His life was honored by hundreds of family and friends at his funeral service. I know I speak for the rest of the family in saying that we owe Jane an eternal debt of love and gratitude for sharing her life with Dad. We embrace her as part of the family and will continue to do so until the day she leaves us.

Your advice to "Desperate" neglected to address one small detail. Unless they had obtained a court order, the wiretap his daughters put on his phone was illegal, and they could have been prosecuted. What I say to "Desperate" is simply this: Sir, if you are fortunate enough to find love again in the autumn of your life, go ahead and jump in, right after you tell your daughters to go take a flying leap! -- FORTUNATE SON, LONGVIEW, WASH.

DEAR FORTUNATE SON: It appears your father had many blessings in his life -- not the least of which were his children. Thank you for such an upbeat letter. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: How sad to read the letter from the elderly widower whose daughters drove away his new wife and now threaten to do the same with his new potential mate. I am a lawyer who does a lot of estate planning, and I have a couple of suggestions for him.

First, disinherit these greedy offspring and leave his estate to charity. If he won't do that, have his will include a clause like this:

"If at the time of my death I am married to (the new flame), I leave all of my estate to my two daughters, in equal shares. If I am not married to (the new flame), I leave all of my estate to the following charities: ..."

That should induce the daughters to be kind to the new wife. If the new wife dies first or leaves on her own, the daughters may get nothing, but that is what they deserve anyway.

Finally, his two daughters sound so determined to have his estate that he might want to add a clause that says the provisions for his daughters are to be effective ONLY if they can establish by clear and convincing evidence that his death was not the result of a homicide caused or procured by either of them.

Let the old guy have a life! -- ATTORNEY IN EUGENE, ORE.

DEAR ATTORNEY: When I suggested to "Desperate" that he talk the entire situation over with his attorney, a legal document of some kind was what I had in mind. It did not occur to me that he might need to hire a food-taster. I hope he sees your letter and takes it to heart.

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

What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS, and getting along with peers and parents is in "What Every Teen Should Know." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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