DEAR ABBY: My beloved husband passed away in early October, leaving a hobby cabinet filled with expensive items. It had never been kept locked. The keys were always left hanging in the lock. The day before the visitation at the funeral home, my son quietly locked the cabinet, pocketed the keys and took them with him. The next day, my husband’s brother told me what my son had done and expressed concern about his intentions regarding the contents of the cabinet as well as the expensive hobby items in my husband’s workroom.

I was shocked and upset. I felt my son had violated the privacy of my home by locking the cabinet and leaving with the keys. Therefore, I called him and told him I wanted them returned the next day. My son began crying and saying, “Mom, why are you doing this to me?”

I was perplexed then and remain perplexed as to how he thought I was doing anything “to him” inasmuch as it was he who had locked me out of a cabinet in my own home. I felt then, and continue to feel, that I had every right to tell him I wanted the keys back. A few days later, my son told me he was “crushed, CRUSHED!” by my request.

My son’s wife is an attorney. She sees nothing wrong with what my son did, and in fact, has criticized me for my remarks about his “secreting the keys from my home.”

Please tell me, was I wrong in wanting the keys returned, and was my son wrong in what he did? Also, what do you think of my daughter-in-law’s position? This man is my only child, and he is no longer speaking to me! – DISTRESSED MOM, ORMOND BEACH, FLA.

DEAR DISTRESSED: You were certainly within your rights to ask for the keys to be returned immediately. That your son would take it upon himself to lock a cabinet in your home and take the keys without first checking to see if it was all right with you, was extremely presumptuous.

My reaction to his reaction when you pointed that out to him is, “The best defense is a good offense.” In other words, he was attempting to make you feel guilty for calling him on what he had done. As to his wife’s position – there’s a country-and-western song title that describes it perfectly: “Stand by Your Man.”

You have my sympathy – first for the loss of your husband, and second for the loss of your illusions about your child. Please, I urge you, do not allow him to emotionally blackmail you. He owes you an apology.

DEAR ABBY: One of my husband’s friends gave me a “white elephant” gift this week. To be specific, it was more like a pink pig gift. That’s right – I got a fuzzy pink pig that snores and says something about eating slop. My husband was given a beautiful leather wallet!

He says I’m being paranoid to think his friend gave me the pig to make fun of me. He says his friend is a prankster, not a critic. I say, how would he like it if we gave his girlfriend a stuffed pig? What do you think about this, Abby? – FRAN IN ILLINOIS

DEAR FRAN: I think that if ever a gift begged to be re- gifted, it’s your fuzzy pink pig. Next Christmas, wrap it beautifully and return it to the prankster.

Be sure to include a small container of Pepto-Bismol. It’s pink, so it will coordinate nicely. Perhaps it will neutralize some of the acid in the man’s sense of humor.

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 or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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