DEAR ABBY: I agree with your advice 95 percent of the time. However, I disagree with your comments to "Heartsick in N.Y.," the widow who said a young woman had shown up on her doorstep claiming to be her deceased husband's illegitimate daughter.
That young woman didn't ask to be born from an affair. Although I'm sure the widow is heartsick, there is no way to easily break that kind of news to anyone. It is a sad situation, but neither side is at fault. If "Heartsick" is unsure about paternity, a simple DNA test can be done to prove the truth. -- CHERYL IN SAN ANTONIO
DEAR CHERYL: That's true. And that is why I advised "Heartsick" to contact her lawyer right away. However, my gut told me that something might be amiss. And here's why. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: "Heartsick's" letter had "con artist" written all over it. Please inform her that there are people who check the obituaries every day for the names of people who die. They get all the personal information and show up when the survivors are not thinking clearly.
Pictures can be doctored, and the information about the husband being in the sports field, I'm sure, was public knowledge. It's a simple matter, with today's technology, to scan pictures and digitally alter them, even to the point of merging them with other pictures.
If the husband was clever enough to have kept his affair and the child hidden for 20 years, and he wanted to help the girl with college tuition, don't you think he'd have devised a way to provide for her financial security? And if that girl was really his daughter, don't you think she'd have been more sensitive than to have approached his widow at a time like that? -- BEEN CONNED IN MISSISSIPPI
DEAR CONNED: I agree with you. There are better ways to approach someone than to tell the person the last 20 years of her marriage was a lie. And one of them is through an intermediary. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: My 37-year-old husband was killed by a drunk driver. His picture appeared in the newspaper. My husband was a very handsome man who had been successful in sales.
When I returned from his funeral, I found, mixed in with the condolence notes, a letter from a woman claiming that my husband was the father of her child. She said she was willing to leave town and not embarrass us, but needed money to do so. I did not contact a lawyer -- I called the police. They contacted the FBI and the woman was caught.
It was a scam that she had used successfully before. I recommend that "Heartsick" call the police, and certainly demand a DNA test, before giving the woman anything. -- SYMPATHETIC IN HAWAII
DEAR SYMPATHETIC: You're a quick thinker. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: Your advice to "Heartsick" was right on the money. Here's how I handled the same situation after being contacted by an "adult daughter" asking me to "share something to help her remember her dad." I told her I'd be glad to. I photocopied the funeral bill and sent it to her immediately, with a request she pay her portion in cash.
I know it may sound crass, but I never heard from her again. -- NOBODY'S FOOL, BROOKSVILLE, FLA.