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by Abigail Van Buren

Disputed Heirloom Silver Causes Family Ill Will

DEAR ABBY: I was very close to my grandmother. My sister, "Julie," was not. Grandma had beautiful silverware that I used to help her polish when I was a child. She promised it to me. A couple of weeks before she died, she said that her silver should go to Julie. Grandma often mixed our names at the end, and I think she was confused about who was who. My mother disagreed; the silverware was given to Julie. A few years later, after she realized how much it meant to me, Julie gave me the silverware.

Recently, my father told me that because our family has had a run of bad luck, that Grandma was "cursing" us from the grave for disobeying her wishes. He has ordered me to give the silverware back to Julie. I think this is nonsense. To suggest that my sweet grandmother would send my 14-year-old nephew severe health problems from "beyond the grave" is a vile thing to say about a woman who loved us all very much.

I am scheduled for major surgery in a few weeks (further proof of the curse, according to Dad). Should I return the silverware to Julie, even though I don't believe in curses, or should I just ignore the "curse" and take the consequences?

Please don't tell me to see a priest. We're Jewish. -- "CURSED" IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR "CURSED": Curse, indeed! Call a rabbi and tell him or her what you have told me. There may be a blessing in Hebrew that can be recited that will put your father's superstitions to rest. However, the most precious legacy your grandmother bequeathed to her family is not her silver and china; it is the treasured memories of the good times you shared together. I hope that one day soon you will all enjoy a wonderful family dinner using Grandma's silverware.