DEAR ABBY: My nephew "George" -- who dumped his wife and children for a barmaid -- died recently. He was dead broke, so my sister paid for his funeral. I didn't attend, but I was told that George's cremated remains were put in a whiskey bottle by the barmaid, and the bottle was going to be buried in my mother's grave.
Why my sister, his siblings and his kids went along with this idea I'll never know. None of us were raised that way. I found out about it only after the service and put a stop to it. As far as I'm concerned, they could have buried him in a condom, but not in my mother's grave! Was I wrong to put a stop to this travesty? -- DISGUSTED UNCLE
DEAR DISGUSTED UNCLE: No, you weren't. Your sister, nieces and nephews may have agreed because it seemed like a low-cost way to dispose of George's remains. But I'll bet they didn't know the cemetery would charge a hefty fee for a second interment.
Because your nephew spent his life with a woman who worked in a bar, there's a certain symmetry to the idea of a whiskey bottle being used as his urn. I was told of a widow who did the same thing with her husband's ashes -- and then she had the bottle made into a lamp because her husband "lit up her life." Someone should mention it to George's grieving lady friend as a way to keep him with her until they can be buried (or scattered) somewhere together.
DEAR ABBY: I exercise in the pool at a women's health club. Several women there share personal information with each other in loud voices. One of them talks nonstop with anyone she can get to engage with her.
By the way, these women are not exercising. They just stand in the pool socializing. Abby, I'm a captive audience! I can't escape from their chatter. I don't want to hear about their divorce, colonoscopy or aches and pains. I have mentioned this to the staff with no success.
Could you please address voice volume and appropriate sharing in confined spaces? -- FRUSTRATED IN FLORIDA
DEAR FRUSTRATED: The staff at the gym may be reluctant to speak to the women because they're afraid it will cause them to cancel their memberships. That's why the person who should address the voice volume issue is you. The women may be unaware that you can hear every word they say. If asking the magpies to pipe down doesn't work, then you'll have to swim at a time when they are not around.
DEAR ABBY: I was cleaning out my closets and I'm wondering if there is any advice you can give on donating household items to charity. Is there a right way or wrong way to pack them up? -- GAIL IN OSHKOSH, WIS.
DEAR GAIL: Any items you decide to donate should be clean and in good working order. If you are getting rid of china or glassware, toss anything that is chipped and wrap the rest individually in newspaper so it arrives at its destination without breaking. Clothing should be clean, neatly folded and free of stains. Before giving your things away, ask yourself if you were on the receiving end, would you want it?
What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS and getting along with peers and parents is in "What Every Teen Should Know." Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $7 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)