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by Abigail Van Buren

Message From Other Side Has Alarming Implication

DEAR ABBY: From time to time, you publish humorous pieces in your column. I hope you and your readers will enjoy this one:

At the wake, the woman told her priest that ever since she was a child, she and her father had discussed life after death. They had agreed that whoever went first would try to contact the other. They had discussed it again only two weeks before his death.

He died in her home, and a few hours later, the smoke alarm in her garage went off. She had lived there for 28 years and it had never gone off before. She didn't know how to stop it and had to call the security company that had installed it.

The next morning, the smoke alarm sounded again -- and the reason finally dawned on her. She said aloud, "OK, Dad, I missed the signal yesterday, but I've got it now. Thanks for letting me know you're safe on the other side. Now turn the darn thing off so I don't have to call the security company again!" And it went off!

She immediately called her priest to relay the good news. His response: "Dear, if every time your father sends you a message, he sets off the SMOKE alarm, just where do you think he's calling from?" -- THE REV. JAMES BLANTZ, ROLLING PRAIRIE, IND.

DEAR REV. BLANTZ: She should thank God it wasn't a toll call. Thank you for being an angel and sharing. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: May I offer yet another cell phone etiquette blooper?

My grandfather's funeral was last week. Since our family is Catholic, we asked a priest to officiate. In the middle of the service, a cell phone rang (to the tune of "Happy Birthday"). You should have seen the scowls and heads turning. A few minutes later, it rang for the second time!

At the graveside afterward, we finally discovered who the culprit was. During the solemn flag-folding ceremony, the phone rang a third time. Imagine our astonishment when the PRIEST pulled the offending instrument out of his pocket and stepped away to engage in a long conversation. -- STILL SHOCKED IN SANTA CLARITA, CALIF.

DEAR STILL SHOCKED: I'll bet it was the woman whose father was contacting her via the smoke alarm.