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by Abigail Van Buren

Grieving Parents Receive Disturbing Gift With Poise

DEAR ABBY: At a recent anniversary celebration for my parents, a well-meaning but thoughtless in-law sent them a gift from my deceased sister, with a card signed with her name. She died of cancer two years ago.

Her loss has been difficult and heartbreaking for all of us, especially my parents. I am furious at this guest for giving such a "gift." My parents were visibly shocked, but thanked the person anyway.

I knew the in-law was planning something like this, and I asked that it not be done at the party. I wish I had just said, "No! Don't do it!" I'm not sure whether I am madder at the gift giver or myself. I feel like the work we have done to recover from the loss has been set back. I could use some good advice. -- SPEECHLESS IN NEW JERSEY

DEAR SPEECHLESS: Your parents are extraordinarily gracious people to have handled the situation as tactfully as they did. It must have been devastating for them. The in-law's level of insensitivity is appalling.

Please do not blame yourself for what happened. If you had said, "Don't do it," it probably would have happened anyway. What's done is done, now let it go.

DEAR ABBY: My husband moved out on Feb. 14 of last year. (Yes, Valentine's Day!) Our divorce will be final soon.

My soon-to-be-ex parades his girlfriend all over town and with our friends. He claims it is over between us, yet he still comes over to mow the yard for me and do errands. He also comes here every Sunday to watch TV and visit. He says he wants to remain close friends even after the divorce.

My question is: What gives with him? I don't understand him at all. -- ARE WE DONE YET?

DEAR ARE WE DONE YET?: For a man to move out on Valentine's Day illustrates that he has the emotional sensitivity of a golf shoe. Your ex may be doing these things out of guilt. Whether the two of you are done yet depends upon how you define "done." Your marriage is over. Your romance is, too. What's left to tie you together? If it's masochism on your part, I don't recommend it.

DEAR ABBY: While I was at the grocery store, the woman in front of me said hello like she recognized me. I recognized her, but didn't remember her name or where I knew her from. I asked her some lame questions about art class, but it was obvious I didn't know her from there. It was very embarrassing.

The message I would like to give your readers is, please don't assume that someone can place you immediately. I am 70, and my memory is no longer as good as it used to be. The woman should have made sure I knew who she was, because it could have saved both of us from embarrassment. -- RED-FACED IN LEE'S SUMMIT, MO.

DEAR RED-FACED: I'm pleased to pass along your message. I have always thought the best policy in these situations is honesty. Because you were unable to place the woman, you should have told her you couldn't recall her name and asked her. To do so would not have been a breach of etiquette, and the encounter would have been less embarrassing for both of you.

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.)