I am in my 40s and have never lost anyone close to me. Unfortunately, my darling mother-in-law has terminal cancer. I am now preoccupied that people's spirits are near us after they die.
Please don't laugh, but it gives me the creeps. I don't want to think my mother-in-law will watch me making love with my husband, that my father will watch me in the bathroom, or that my mother will be critical of my spending more time with my kids than cleaning the house as she did.
Am I crazy to think I might not have any privacy after my loved ones die?
- Spooked in Spokane
DEAR SPOOKED: Calm down. The departed sometimes "visit" those with whom their souls were intertwined, but usually it's to offer strength, solace and reassurance during difficult times. If your mother-in-law's spirit visits you while you're intimate with her son, it will be only to wish you and her son many more years of closeness and happiness in your marriage.
As to your parents, when they travel to the hereafter, I am sure they'll have more pleasant things with which to occupy their time than spying on you. So hold a good thought and quit worrying.
DEAR ABBY: I have a question regarding gift-giving. If you receive a gift of clothing (with a receipt) from someone and the garment doesn't fit, is it your responsibility to exchange it, or should you return it to the gift-giver, explain that it's the wrong size and ask the person to return it?
I gave my sister an outfit that didn't fit her. She immediately gave the gift back and asked me to return it.
- Lori in Fountain Valley, Calif.
DEAR LORI: It is the recipient's responsibility to return the item. That way she (or he) can be sure the replacement will be the right size, the right color or the right style. To give you your gift back and expect you to take responsibility for it was presumptuous.
DEAR ABBY: A friend of more than 40 years, "Myra," delivered a letter to my physician outlining her observations of what she claims were "changes" in me. I was called into my doctor's office to respond.
Myra has also told me I should see a psychiatrist. I am disappointed that a friend would say these things about me, and I don't think she should have contacted my doctor without telling me. I have asked others if they have noticed any dramatic changes in me and no one else has.
Myra may have my best interests at heart, but I am upset about this, to say the least. Am I wrong to feel that she has overstepped her boundaries?
- Perfectly Fine in Ohio
DEAR PERFECTLY FINE: Your friend must have been extremely concerned about you to have taken the step she did. And I wish you had mentioned in your letter why she thinks you should see a psychiatrist. If you have no family nearby with whom she could discuss her concerns, it's possible that she did what she did out of love for you, so please try to forgive her.
P.S. Was what she did out of character for her? If so, consider discussing it with her family - or physician.
Abby shares more than 100 of her favorite recipes in two booklets: "Abby's Favorite Recipes" and "More Favorite Recipes by Dear Abby." Send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $12 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby - Cookbooklet Set, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in price.)
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.