DEAR ABBY: My sister died suddenly. She hadn't been ill, and it was a shock. Although she tried hard to have a relationship with me over the years, I had trouble relating to her and we weren't close.
I am sorry to say that I never took the time to get to know her. I'm left now with many questions about the sister I always had, but never really knew.
As her next of kin, I'm responsible for packing up her things, and I came across several journals. I would like to read them because I feel they would help me to understand her better, but I also feel it might be disrespectful to go through something of hers that was so personal.
What do you think? Would it be wrong to read them? I wish I had her here to talk to instead of journals to snoop through. -- REGRETFUL IN OAKLAND
DEAR REGRETFUL: I'm sorry for your loss, and your regrets. Because you would like to know your sibling, I think you should read her journals. While it's sad that you have to make her acquaintance in this way, it would be better than never having known her at all.
DEAR ABBY: I love my wife, but I find it difficult to take her to any function where there will be many people. She doesn't comprehend most conversations. She acts like she's listening, but if prompted for a reply, it's obvious she wasn't.
While she doesn't seem to care, I find it embarrassing. People tend to shy away from her, leaving her by herself. Because of this, we don't often get invited back. At Christmas, when I received my invitation to the annual office party, I sent my regrets.
If I try to talk to my wife about this issue, she gets defensive and accuses me of picking on her. Advice? -- THE NORTH 40 IN VIRGINIA
DEAR NORTH 40: It would be interesting to know if your wife's problem is an inability to comprehend English well, a hearing problem or a social anxiety disorder. Of course, we'll never know unless you're able to have an honest conversation with her about it and explain how it affects you. If there is a solution, your wife will have to want to find it.
As to functions having to do with business, if she's uncomfortable in that environment, then you should attend without her.
DEAR ABBY: I'm a secretary who happens to make really good coffee. An employee who works in the building likes my coffee and has made himself comfortable at my desk in the morning before he starts work and afterward, before his second job.
I am not comfortable with this. He plants himself at my desk, and I find myself having to work around him. He has become a fixture in my office and I need it to stop. How can I go about this without hurting his feelings? -- NOT HIS BARISTA
DEAR NOT: From where I sit, it looks like the man may have a crush on you. Because you want less of his company, tell him you need to get to work -- or get your work finished -- and that his presence at your desk is distracting. Tell him you're flattered that he likes your coffee and he's welcome to a cup, but he needs to drink it elsewhere. If you say it pleasantly, his feelings shouldn't be hurt.
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