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Man putting affairs in order writes to an old sweetheart

DEAR ABBY: A few weeks ago I had surgery, and they found cancer. I have put my affairs in order to ease the burden on my children.

I have written my will, made a list of those to be notified after my death, wrote my obituary and requested in which newspaper I would like it printed. I have also listed all my assets and where they are.

I have only one question: After my death I would like a former high school girlfriend notified, and I have written a letter to be given to her. She has been married to the same man for 40 years, and we have not been in contact.

I always had special feelings for her and would like to tell her so and thank her for the great times we had together. I would not want to create problems in her marriage, but would like to send her a letter of thanks and appreciation.

What do you think? Should I leave well enough alone, or let her know what a special person she was in my life?


DEAR FINAL REQUEST: I am sorry about your sad prognosis. I doubt that having the letter sent after your death would "cause problems" in that lady's marriage. And frankly, I'm sure it would be a gift to her that would make her smile for the rest of her life. You have my blessings to send it.

DEAR ABBY: My boyfriend and I are having a disagreement about flirting with other people. He thinks it's OK to "harmlessly flirt" as long as the person knows you are in a committed relationship. I think that flirting could lead to a misunderstanding that may cause problems in the relationship.

I trust my boyfriend, but I don't trust other women and never have. I asked him to stop doing it, and he has assured me it won't happen again.

Now I'm wondering if I overreacted. Do you think flirting is harmless, or do you see it as a potential problem for the relationship?


DEAR LAURA: It's a potential problem for the relationship if one of the parties is insecure and regards it as a threat. It's also a potential problem if the flirting persists in spite of the fact that your boyfriend knows it makes you insecure. Regardless of whether this romance leads to marriage, however, you really should try to understand why you have such negative feelings about other women because those feelings aren't healthy, and may not be justified.

DEAR ABBY: I loaned a treasured book to my close friend "Serena." When her younger sister moved out of state four months later, Serena told me the book had been accidentally packed up with the girl's things. She promised to buy me a new copy, but didn't.

It has now been three years, and my $20 book still has not been replaced. One day I noticed it on Serena's bookshelf. I don't want to demand she give it back for fear of seeming petty, but I really loved the book and want it back. How do I handle this?


DEAR SERIOUS READER: The next time you are at Serena's, walk over to her bookshelf and exclaim, "Serena! I guess you were mistaken about my book being sent to your sister's because here it is!" Then take it off the shelf and take it with you. And in the future, write your name on the inside cover of your books before lending them to anyone.

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.