DEAR ABBY: I recently entertained a childhood friend as a houseguest. It was our first visit in many years. After she left, I noticed several treasured heirlooms were missing -- a hand-blown glass horse sculpture and a bowl from a prominent glass company in Italy. I had hand-carried those pieces home from Italy as gifts for my parents, who have since died. They were the only things that I had from my parents, and they are irreplaceable.
I heard my friend talk about "getting" items from work. Even though I was shocked, I said nothing. I can't prove that she took the sculpture and bowl, but they were here before she came and gone after her departure. No one else has been in my home. What should I do? -- NO MORE INVITATIONS
DEAR NO MORE INVITATIONS: Your childhood friend may be a kleptomaniac, or jealous of the life you have lived and took the items as a way to "even the score." One way to get your things back would be to pay the woman an unexpected visit and retrieve the items to which she helped herself. Do not go unaccompanied.
If you have photographs of the sculpture and the bowl displayed in your home, not only would they be "proof" of what she took, they could also be helpful for insuring other items of value.
DEAR ABBY: "Brent" and I have been friends since grammar school. We had always had chemistry, so at 18 we took it to another level and started dating. After three months, I broke it off because it didn't "feel right." Brent hadn't cheated on me -- in fact, we got along perfectly.
We are now 21 and ran into each other recently. All the feelings I had for him came flooding back and -- to my amazement -- he said he felt the same way.
Only one thing is holding me back. I have heard the phrase, "An ex is an ex for a reason." What is your opinion? -- FOUND MY SOULMATE IN NEW JERSEY
DEAR FOUND YOUR SOULMATE: Sometimes there is a kernel of truth in those hackneyed cliches. And that's why it is important for you and Brent to carefully examine what went wrong the first time before becoming involved again. It could save one or both of you from getting hurt.
DEAR ABBY: I would like to thank you for a letter you printed near the end of last year. It was from "Walter H.," who was dismayed at the lack of handwritten correspondence he received. After reading his letter I was moved to send a special letter to my grandmother. I wrote it by hand and expressed my deep appreciation for everything she had done for me and also thanked her for the important role she had played in my life.
A few months later, my dear grandmother was gone. I must say that being able to tell her how much she meant to me, and being able to thank her for all she had done, helped me through the grieving process after her passing. I felt as though I had been able to say my piece to her and let her know exactly how much she was loved.
Walter H.'s letter provided me with that little bit of incentive to write my grandmother, and it helped me in so many ways. My sincere thanks to you both. -- THANKFUL GRANDSON IN TORONTO
DEAR THANKFUL: I'm sure Walter H. will be as touched to read your letter as I was. Your acknowledgment of your grandmother's role in your life was the most meaningful gift you could have given her, and I'm glad you didn't procrastinate about expressing it.
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-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)
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