DEAR ABBY: I have been widowed for five years. I have a close friend, “Louise,” who was also close to my late husband. She promised him on his deathbed she would “take care of me” when he was gone.

Well, she has taken it to the extreme. She became very controlling and didn’t want me doing anything without her. I went along with it to keep the peace until about a year ago, when I met a wonderful man I’ll call Bill.

Bill recently moved into my home. Louise says he has no right to live with me here because my late husband had it built and I have no right to let anyone else stay here. Now she refuses to visit. People have repeated to me some of the awful things she has called Bill. We have had many arguments over the hurtful things she has said in my presence.

Bill feels bad about this. He hasn’t said or done anything to deserve the treatment Louise is dishing out and has encouraged me to try and work it out. Any advice on how to handle this very stressful situation? — WIDOW IN SALEM, N.J.

DEAR WIDOW: Yes. Stop trying to appease Louise. She has gone beyond “taking care of you” and is trying to dictate the way you live your life. Bill means well, but you have already tried to get Louise to accept the situation. Because she refuses, perhaps it’s time to move on.

DEAR ABBY: I’m in a bind when it comes to hostess gifts. I know nothing about wine and am not much interested in learning because most of my friends and I don’t drink. I am also allergic to flowers and perfumes, so I would never give anyone flowers, soaps or candles, because if I did I would have to leave the party early.


This leaves me confused as to what is appropriate. Could I give a nice jar of high-quality spice or are there better options? — IN THE DARK ABOUT HOSTESS GIFTS

DEAR IN THE DARK: A box of assorted chocolates might be nice, if your hosts are sweet-eaters, or matching small- and medium-sized picture frames, or a box of note cards and matching envelopes. However, unless you are certain the spice you select is one your hosts might use, I don’t recommend it as a house gift.

DEAR ABBY: I’m a single mother supporting four children with no help from my ex-husband. I am fortunate to have a good job that I like. I referred a friend to the company who has since become a regular employee, and he seems to be happy here.

I was recently told that I’ll be receiving a referral bonus, which was a pleasant surprise. My friend approached me and asked me point-blank to split the money with him! I was taken aback. He knows my situation. He has a wife who also works full time, and two kids.

I think he has a lot of gall to put me in a spot like this. The bonus money will be a huge help to me, and I don’t think it’s right that he expects me to give half of it to him. How do I handle this while keeping our work relationship intact? — EXTORTED IN NEVADA

DEAR EXTORTED: Ignore your co-worker’s question. If the subject is raised again, laugh and tell him you thought he was joking. If he says he wasn’t, remind him how hard jobs are to find and tell him he’s lucky you didn’t ask HIM for a referral fee. You don’t owe him anything; he owes YOU his gratitude.

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.

Good advice for everyone — teens to seniors — is in “The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It.” To order, send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $7 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

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