Dear Abby: When my husband died, he didn’t have a lot of possessions. He died without a will, so what little he had is now with me. My problem is my mother-in-law keeps asking that I return things she gave him.
I wouldn’t mind if she has them, but she has been giving them to his children, who hated him and were rude and disrespectful. They neither called nor came to see him during his long illness. They didn’t even bother to come to his funeral.
I feel they want his things only because they think they might be of some value, not out of any respect or affection. My kids showed him more respect and love than his own did, and I’d rather they have his things.
Should I be honest and tell my mother-in-law why I won’t give her any more of his possessions? I just don’t know what to do.
Dear Widow: It’s sad that your stepchildren ignored their father during his illness and chose to skip his funeral. Be sure to point that out when you tell your former mother-in-law you have other plans for the items. She may not like hearing it, but once a gift is given, it belongs to the recipient. And because her son died without a will, the recipient is you, his widow.
Dear Abby: I recently started a new job. One of the management individuals has taken a strong interest in me. He keeps doing favors for me that benefit me financially and I appreciate it. (I have never asked him to do this.)
I have always been courteous and took his gestures as a sign of kindness. But now he has started complimenting me and talking about things that go way beyond conversation. It’s making me uncomfortable.
We have gone out on two friendly lunches before, and he is a genuine, kind, educated, wonderful man. He would be a great catch, but the problem is he is extremely overweight. I am emotionally attracted to him, but physically repelled. I can’t wait years for him to lose the weight, but he is taking my kindness as a possible show of interest. Have you any advice that could help end his attraction, but continue the business advice he provides for me?
In a Spot
Dear in a Spot: When the man compliments you about anything that isn’t work-connected, tell him that when he does it, it makes you uncomfortable. And when he raises topics that aren’t business-related, steer the conversation right back where it belongs. He may be a kind, genuine, educated, wonderful person, but if he persists, it could be considered harassment.
Dear Abby: I am part of a group of neighbors who often go out to dinner together. However, one woman often talks loudly on her cellphone at the dinner table, and it makes the rest of us feel uncomfortable and insignificant. It has gotten so bad we have stopped inviting her.
I feel sorry for her and wonder if I should explain the reason she’s being excluded. What is the best way to handle this dilemma?
In the Neighborhood
Dear Friend: If done discreetly and kindly, it might benefit the woman to know why she’s no longer included. Frankly, you’d be doing her a favor because her behavior was rude.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.