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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I'm a 58-year-old woman who has been married 40 years. I married at 18, put my husband through school and raised three children.

We have now been separated five years, after I found out that my husband had had numerous affairs. The last one lasted three years and I had no idea. During his last affair, he had the woman in our home and told her personal things about me. He lied and told her we were getting a divorce.

We have not divorced. Financially it would be hard. I can't seem to get over the pain and hurt. He still calls to see if I am OK. I continually visualize him with the other women. Thirty-five years is a long time, and he's the only man I have ever known.

I want to get over him, but it's hard. I now work full-time. My husband constantly sought women who admired his power and status in the community. I don't think I can ever get over his hurting me so. I tried counseling. It didn't work. He continues to call, which keeps me hanging. Should I break all ties? Is that what's holding me back? -- SAD IN OHIO

DEAR SAD: Let me talk to you like a friend and offer a suggestion: Talk to an attorney. After 40 years of marriage to a man with "power and status," one wealthy enough to afford serial "cookies" on the side, he must have accumulated enough assets that you shouldn't have to hold down a full-time job.

If you availed yourself of some of the assets to which you may be entitled, you might have enough to get more counseling and do some traveling, which might help to lessen your unhappiness. THEN you can decide whether or not to break all ties.

DEAR ABBY: With graduation announcements pouring in every day from everyone whom I have ever known who has a child graduating, I think I have seen a new low.

I actually received a photocopy of a high school graduation announcement. There was no picture, no personal note, just a photocopy folded into a cheap envelope. The "real" ones had been sent to more "important" people.

My question is, should I send the kid a photocopy of a congratulations card and a photocopy of some money? What's the best way to handle this? -- FLABBERGASTED IN THE SOUTH

DEAR FLABBERGASTED: If you have not seen the graduate since grammar school and aren't particularly close to the family, just toss it!

DEAR ABBY: I saw the letter you printed recently about "pennies from heaven" and thought I would share my story about a coin of a different kind.

My son died at the age of 16 following an auto accident. Among the feelings I was having was guilt that he didn't get to go to Italy with his Latin class the spring before his death because I couldn't afford it. Now, he would never get to go.

One day after returning to work, I was getting into my car and noticed a coin on the seat. I picked it up and was shocked to see it was an Italian lira! I took that as a sign that he DID get to see Italy, and I keep it in the frame with his picture. -- CHRISTOPHER'S MOM IN EVANSVILLE, IND.

DEAR MOM: Please accept my sympathy for the tragic loss of your son. The coin was sent to comfort you, and I'm glad it served its purpose of tempering your feelings of guilt and loss.

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