DEAR ABBY: A friend was diagnosed with cancer. A single woman living alone, she rallied a group of co-workers, friends and neighbors to donate their time to help her with a variety of tasks. These included driving her back and forth to chemo and doctor appointments, fixing meals, cleaning her house (she has OCD and was super-picky about every detail &

including cleaning the cat box), sleeping over to make sure she was OK (we had only a lumpy couch because she refused to set up a bed in one of her two vacant bedrooms!) and handling a variety of other tasks.

I was one of the many who donated time, energy and vacation days from work to help her.

After her chemo treatments were over, she invited all of her "caregivers" to an inexpensive neighborhood restaurant for dinner as a thank-you gesture. At the end of the meal, everyone was asked to pay for our dinner and drinks! The restaurant bill came to around $250.

Abby, this woman holds a high-level, well-paying job and was receiving a regular paycheck during her illness. If not for the generosity of many people, she would have had to pay no less than $25 an hour for months of "personal care." I think she should have paid for our dinner as a small token of her gratitude. What's your opinion?

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USED UP IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR USED UP: My opinion is the same as yours. But look at it this way: She could have "invited you" to an expensive restaurant. Give her credit for being a talented organizer as well as an ingrate.

DEAR ABBY: I am a young woman, happily in love with a young man, "Travis." We have been dating for more than two years and hope to become engaged. But we're unwilling to take the next step without the blessing of my parents, and for a number of reasons, they're not ready to see us become engaged at this time.

In the meantime, Trav and I are constantly confronted by people who are eager to see us tie the knot. I wish I had a dime for every person who has asked, "So, where's the ring?" or, "Why don't you just elope?" We used to try explaining that we're waiting for my parents' blessing (and for Travis to finish college), but nobody seems satisfied with our reasons for waiting. I respect my parents' opinion, and do not feel I must defend it to others.

Trav is uncomfortable with the questions, too. He thinks we should tell people we're "just friends," but I don't believe we should hide our relationship just because someone is nosy.

Being rude is not in my personality, so I need a polite way to tell people to mind their own business.

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SEARCHING FOR THE RIGHT WORDS

DEAR SEARCHING: Smile and say, "We'll set a date when we're ready, and we're not ready yet." Then change the subject.

DEAR ABBY: Is it possible for a wife of eight years to have a baby from another man and three "flings" after that, and still say she loves her husband? This is killing me.

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BROKEN-HEARTED IN WASHINGTON

DEAR BROKEN-HEARTED: It's possible, if the wife is a sex addict who can't control her behavior. More important is how you feel about her, because you would have to be a masochist to allow the situation to continue unless she gets some much-needed help.

DEAR ABBY: My husband believes an apology is required only if the action requiring one is intentional. For example, if my husband opens the windows and then turns on the sprinklers, allowing water into the living room, he thinks he doesn't need to apologize for causing the ensuing mess because he didn't do it intentionally.

I believe an apology is necessary, not just for an accident, but for anything that causes inconvenience to another person.

What are your thoughts?

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IRRITATED IN IRVING, TEXAS

DEAR IRRITATED: It seems you have married someone who's a little rough around the edges. If your husband opens a window, turns on the sprinklers and causes your drapes, furniture or carpet to become wet, he owes you an apology for the inconvenience he caused. To do otherwise implies an insensitivity to your feelings. My question would be, Is your husband also this way when it comes to other things?

DEAR ABBY: I'm a 28-year-old woman. In the past, many men have cheated on me. I have been dating a wonderful man for three years now. Things would be great if I didn't always worry about him possibly cheating, too. When I can't find him, I panic. I always think the worst, then I wind up confronting him and upsetting him.

I can't seem to get past the feeling that one day he will also be unfaithful. I wish I could trust him, but I'm afraid to be made a fool of again.

Is being with this man hopeless?

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ALWAYS SUSPICIOUS, JAMAICA, N.Y.

DEAR SUSPICIOUS: Your problem is less that you feel you can't trust your boyfriend than that you can't trust your own judgment. As the 49ers learned more than a century ago, you have to sift through a lot of gravel before you find a gold nugget, and it's the same with dating.

You appear to have finally picked a winner. Please give him the benefit of the doubt before your insecurities cause you to create a self-fulfilling prophecy.

DEAR ABBY: My daughter will be 16 in a few weeks. My problem is I can't seem to let her go anywhere unless an adult is present. It's not that I don't trust her, because I do. It's her friends. I love my daughter very much and wish I could trust her to make the right choice, but a friend could cause her to make the wrong one.

I think I am too strict with her, and I need to give her some running room, but I'm scared to. She's a good kid and makes good grades. What should I do?

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CAN'T LET GO, RIPLEY, MISS.

DEAR CAN'T: Part of being a conscientious parent is learning to let go. Recognize that in two years, your daughter will be 18 and legally an adult. Because she has shown responsible behavior, allow her doses of freedom in baby steps that will give both of you time to adjust to it.

Birds of a feather usually flock together, so unless you have specific reasons for being worried about the company she keeps, recognize that it's time to permit your daughter to use the good judgment you have taught her and allow her some freedom.

Dear Abby is written by , 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.