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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: Because my 90-year-old mother is homebound, she qualifies for a meal program through a senior charity service. The program is free of charge for those in need. She didn't like some of the meals, so she asked me to give them to my father-in-law, "Louis."

Louis is 88. He still drives and is well-off, so he doesn't qualify for the program, but he accepted the meals that were offered. My mother has now decided she can no longer eat any of these meals, so I told her we should discontinue the program.

When I mentioned it to my wife, she became very upset with me, saying her father appreciated those meals. I reminded her that her father is able to drive himself to the supermarket and buy frozen dinners similar to what is being provided through the service. My wife is so angry she now says she will never again share any leftovers with my mother. It's an understatement to say this situation has created a major fight between us.

Is my wife correct in being upset about my discontinuing the meal service? -- CHARITY BEGINS AT HOME

DEAR CHARITY: It wasn't wrong to offer the meals that had already been delivered to your mother to your father-in-law after she rejected them. They probably could not have been redistributed to other seniors by the food program at that point.

But to continue your mother's food service while redirecting them to someone who is not in need is dishonest. It's stealing necessary resources from people who truly need them.

Because your wife is upset, she should contact the agency that provides the meals, or another agency that serves seniors, and see if her father qualifies. But she shouldn't punish you for refusing to go along with a deception.

DEAR ABBY: Twice, while attending social funtions, my wife and I met couples for the first time. On each of these occasions as we were saying goodbye, the husbands said to me, "Your wife is gorgeous." They said it in front of their wives, which surprised me. The first time it happened, I didn't know what to say. The second time, I replied, "So is yours," even though the women weren't all that attractive.

I'm wondering if their comments were appropriate, especially because they were made in the presence of their wives. I wasn't offended, just caught off-guard and felt uncomfortable for their wives. I'd appreciate your comments. -- MARRIED TO A KNOCKOUT

DEAR MARRIED TO A KNOCKOUT: Not only do you have a gorgeous wife, but your wife is blessed with a sensitive husband. The comments those individuals made strike me as insensitive to the feelings of their wives because it invited a comparison which could have made the women feel uncomfortable. I think you handled both situations gallantly.

DEAR ABBY: What does it mean when someone signs his/her name with a "Just" in front of it? I received a Mother's Day card from my in-laws (with whom I don't have a good relationship) and it was signed, "Just Bob and Diane."

I have not seen anyone do this before, and was curious if this was another form of my mother-in-law's cattiness or my ignorance. -- SINCERELY YOURS IN SAVANNAH

DEAR SINCERELY: If I had to hazard a guess, I'd say that Bob and Diane may have a bit of a self-esteem problem. Or they're telling you you don't make them feel very important. Could that be true?

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