Confirming sister-in-law's theft is open-and-shut case

DEAR ABBY: My sister-in-law recently came for a visit. I have not really trusted "Claire" since I began noticing that every time she would leave, a garment or two of mine was missing.

During this last visit, a day before her scheduled departure, I noticed a shirt I had just washed was missing from the laundry room where I had left it. I mentioned it to my husband, and he found it &

in Claire's suitcase.

My husband wants an apology and to inform her that she's not invited back. Is there a proper way to handle this? We haven't said anything to her yet.


DEAR SICK OF THE STEALING: What a sad situation. Obviously, the time has come to clear the air &

but please try to do it kindly. Your sister-in-law may be a certified kleptomaniac, unable to control her impulse to take things. Or, she could be frustrated with her own life and covetous of the loving relationship you enjoy with her brother, and took the items in an attempt to fill the emptiness she feels inside. In either case, she should be confronted with the evidence and told that you both know what has been going on &

and if it happens again, she'll no longer be your houseguest.

DEAR ABBY: This is an open letter from a grieving wife to unfaithful husbands everywhere. You're welcome to print it if you think it might save families from added grief.

Dear Unfaithful Husband: Have you ever stopped to think what would happen if your life ended suddenly, giving you no time to clean up what you would not want your family to know?

My husband died instantly in an automobile accident during his workday. When I was asked to pick up the contents of his desk, his car and the locker at his club, I was shocked beyond belief. The loving husband and father I thought I knew after almost 30 years of marriage had been leading a double life. He had at least three other women conveniently located within a 25-mile radius of our home and his office.

It has taken me three years and numerous counseling sessions to come to terms with my anger and grief. I know it was insecurity caused by his father leaving them during his early years and his mother's resulting instability, but I am still having difficulty getting beyond my anger and hurt when I think of how our grown children might have had to go through this if both of us had been killed in the accident.

For those who are cheating and think you have it hidden so well, stop and think: What would your family find after your death that would cause them additional grief?


DEAR STILL GRIEVING: Please accept my deepest sympathy for your double loss &

that of your husband of 30 years, and also the illusions you had about your life partner. I suspect the latter is what is still causing you grief. I'm pleased to print your open letter to cheating spouses everywhere. However, rather than urging them to cover their tracks, would it not better to suggest they correct what is missing in their marriages so they can remain faithful?

DEAR ABBY: I have recently begun using Internet dating sites to meet guys in my community. With my busy work and home schedules, I have found this to be a good alternative. The problem I'm having is that some of these sites allow matches to ask if you are emotionally and mentally healthy.

In my case, I have suffered from depression in the past. I have been hospitalized for this issue and have received medication. At this point in my life, I manage my depression with non-drug-related therapies. I no longer need a counselor or a therapist, and have in place strategies for when I feel I'm cycling downward.

How should I respond to gentlemen who are looking for an "emotionally healthy" match? I consider myself "recovering" and do not take my mental health for granted. Your advice would be much appreciated.


DEAR NOT SO BLUE: The men asking about an "emotionally healthy match" should be told that very few people today come without some sort of emotional baggage &

them included. And, unlike some people who are carrying steamer trunks of baggage on their backs, yours is manageable. If a man gives you any argument on that, remind him that someone who has recognized he or she had a problem &

and dealt with it &

is healthier than a person who has a problem, is afraid to own up to it and lets it fester.

DEAR ABBY: I am having a conflict with my granddaughter. My mother passed away a year ago. Years ago, she had become engaged to a guy in the Army who gave her an engagement ring. Mother married my father while her fiance was away on active duty.

My granddaughter now says Mother told her she could have the ring. Abby, my mother said nothing to me about any such promise. My granddaughter has not spoken to me since the funeral. At this point, if I give her the ring I feel I would be buying her affection. What do you think?


DEAR IN A BIND: You and your granddaughter are overdue for a frank chat. If your mother truly intended for her to have the ring, she should have put it in writing. What your granddaughter appears to be attempting is emotional blackmail. Giving her the ring will not guarantee her affection or her presence in your life.

If I were you, I'd sell the ring. It appears to bring bad luck to everyone connected with it.

DEAR ABBY: On Memorial Day, I attended the funeral of a respected member of our community. During the motorcade from the mortuary to the cemetery, I noticed a man who had been working in his garden. When he saw the hearse and the motorcade, he stood, bowed his head and held his cap over his heart.

I'm sure the man did not know the deceased, but his respectful act of honoring the person who had passed was noticed by many and was deeply appreciated.

We could learn a lesson from this kind individual. A thoughtful gesture that takes but a few moments can mean a great deal to people who have suffered such a loss.


DEAR CHARLES: I agree. Years ago, the gesture of respect you described was quite common. However, in the last decade or so, it seems to have been forgotten. I'm for reviving it. Even if the deceased is not known to us, taking a moment to dwell on the fact that none of us lives forever can spur us to better spend the time we are given.

Dear Abby is written by , also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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