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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: My family has always had its share of eccentrics, but my older brother, "Rusty," has me perplexed. His mother-in-law, "Louise," passed away six months ago and was cremated per her wishes. She left a considerable amount of money to my brother and sister-in-law -- well into seven figures. Rusty was always fond of his mother-in-law, and I recognize their bond, but his actions of late have grown bizarre.

Rusty now takes Louise's ashes with him to family functions, graduations, camping trips -- and even got a permit to take her remains sailing with them in the Caribbean.

Louise travels first class to more places and attends more functions as cremains than she did when she was flesh and blood. Meanwhile, our own dear mother is still living, and she is never invited to accompany them on any of these trips.

What's your reading of this? -- POOR BUT SANE BROTHER

DEAR BROTHER: Your brother could have separation issues with Louise, or he could be overwhelmingly grateful for the windfall she left them. He may bring the ashes to family functions in an effort to assure that Louise, although gone, is not forgotten.

Your signature indicates that you suspect your brother may have lost touch with reality. Mention your concerns to your brother. If he doesn't have a logical explanation, mention your concerns to his wife. If she agrees, he should have a mental and neurological evaluation.

DEAR ABBY: I met a wonderful man, "Ryan," whom I love dearly. We were planning on a June wedding, but I called it off because of his heavy credit card debt. I thought it should be paid off before we got married.

Also, Ryan has a way of hiding things from me that I feel should be out in the open. If he gets a call from a bill collector, he always goes into another room to talk. Shouldn't I be included in what's going on in his life?

I would offer to help with his debt, but Ryan makes three times as much money as I do. Plus, I have discovered that some of his credit card charges are from Internet porn sites. (He swears he no longer frequents them.)

Don't get me wrong, Abby. This man has done everything he can to get back on track financially so we can be married. But I still feel he's hiding little things from me -- mostly about money.

Am I making too much of this? What should I do or say when he talks about setting another wedding date? I'm not shy about speaking up and sharing my feelings, but somehow he isn't willing to open up and come clean with me.

Your advice would be greatly appreciated. -- WARY FIANCEE IN TENNESSEE

DEAR WARY: Trust is everything in a relationship -- and you and this man don't have it. Listen to your intuition, and if you do decide to marry him, insist on premarital and credit counseling first, and keep your own separate line of credit so his cannot ruin yours.

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