Dear Abby

DEAR ABBY: Three years ago, my brother, "Frank," donated a kidney to me. Of course I'm grateful and have told him so many times.

The problem? Frank talks about it every time I see him. If we attend a funeral, he will say that the person in the coffin would have been me if not for him. He will tell complete strangers in a store, "Ask her what I gave her!" He even took me to a school reunion picnic so he could show his former teachers what a wonderful person he is.

I'm glad I received the kidney. It has added quality to my life. But how can I let my brother know that while I am appreciative, I am also really tired of hearing him remind me every day?

— GRATEFUL SISTER IN KENTUCKY

DEAR SISTER: You may not be able to. Your brother is proud of the fact that he was able to help you. However, if he was truly convinced that he is a good person, he wouldn't feel the need to constantly point it out to strangers, acquaintances and to you.

Tempting as it may be, resist the urge to tell him you're tiring of carrying the burden of gratitude. Continue to reinforce what a good brother he was for literally giving you the gift of self, and return the favor by continuing to pump up his fragile ego. It's a fair exchange.

DEAR ABBY: I'm a busy, full-time doctoral student and live in a large apartment complex where there are only four washing machines for tenants to use.

The last time I went to do laundry, three of the washers were filled with wet clothes. I waited a half-hour and no one came to claim the clothes, so I took the items out and put them in dryers so I could start my own loads. (I didn't have any more time to wait and three loads to do.)

Was it reasonable of me to move someone else's clothes?

— ON A SCHEDULE, AZUSA, CALIF.

DEAR ON A SCHEDULE: Rather than putting the clothes into the dryers where they would take up space, you should have placed the items on top of the dryer or on a folding table where they would be easily seen by the person who left them in the washer.

DEAR ABBY: My husband and I have been together for nine years, married for five. I know without a doubt that he loves me very much and would never do anything to harm our relationship, but I can't get over the fact that he has called me by his first wife's name several times. It makes me feel sad and angry when it happens.

He says he means no harm by it and points out that it has happened with other names, too, which is true. He always apologizes, but that doesn't help. Do you think he is still thinking about her after all these years, or is it an honest mistake?

— WIFE NO. 2 IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

DEAR WIFE NO. 2: It's an honest mistake, and if you are smart you won't make a big deal about it or brood over it — particularly because it has happened with other names, too. The best way to handle it is to turn it into a joke and let it go. It is in no way a reflection on you or an indication that your marriage is threatened. In fact, this kind of lapse is very common.

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.