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by Abigail Van Buren

Man Hopes Former Office Friend Can Remain a Friend

DEAR ABBY: I worked with this great gal, "Lauren," for about four years. She is very attractive. We would see each other about once a month outside of work. We never went out as a couple -- always with other co-workers. We didn't see each other as often after she got married, but we maintained our friendship.

Two years ago, Lauren quit work and she, her husband and child moved away. Within a year, they moved back to our city. I now talk to her on the phone once every three months. Whenever we talk, she says we will get together "soon" -- but we never do.

I know Lauren is married and I am single, but I would enjoy having lunch with her or going for a walk once in a while. Abby, my question is, do you think Lauren and I are still friends? -- JUST A WORK FRIEND?

DEAR JUST A WORK FRIEND: I'm sure Lauren doesn't like you any less, but it's time to face the fact that your friend's circumstances and priorities have changed. She has a husband and child who must come first. Instead of dwelling on the status of this relationship, it is time to move on and cultivate new friends.

DEAR ABBY: I adore the letters about "pennies from heaven." After reading the last one, I thought about it all day and said to myself: That could never happen to me. I don't know anyone in heaven who cares about me -- except maybe my brother who was killed in a car crash when I was 13, but he's probably forgotten all about me. I'm almost 38 now.

Three days later, after my husband and I were leaving a restaurant and walking to our car, I looked down on the filthy sidewalk and spotted a penny. I laughed and told him, "I found a penny from heaven!" I turned the penny over to check the date. I couldn't believe my eyes -- the date was 1974! Abby, I have only one keepsake that belonged to my deceased brother -- a high school class necklace with the inscription: "Senior 1974." No other date would have meant anything to me, as I don't even know what year he was born.

When I got home, I showed my family the necklace I had kept hidden all these years. Even my husband was touched. What are the chances that the penny would have the same date, the only date I would associate with my brother?

I am not religious and never thought this could happen to me. I am still shocked. My mother is astounded. Now she knows her son is where she hoped he would be. I absolutely believe it is a "penny from heaven." -- LISA ANGILANO, BEREA, OHIO

DEAR LISA: So do I. And since that penny had the power to reinforce your mother's faith and restore yours, I'd say that penny was heaven-sent -- wouldn't you?

DEAR ABBY: My parents recently retired and moved into a condo. While in the process of helping them move out of their house of 35 years, I was given some items. In one of the cartons, I discovered some steamy love letters written to my dad from another woman in 1981.

How should I handle this with my father? It was hurtful and embarrassing to find something like this after all this time. -- UNSURE SON IN UTAH

DEAR UNSURE SON: Place the letters in a manila envelope or a sturdy box and seal it securely. Give it to your father privately and tell him the contents belong to him and were taken by mistake. Period. End of conversation.

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

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