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Loss of mom coupled with loss of trust is doubly disturbing

My mother passed away four months ago. The night she died, a sibling of mine took her purse home and brought it back the next day; the checkbook and credit cards were gone. I asked about them and was told my sibling "took care of them."

Last week, I received a copy of mother's credit card statement in the mail. It had more than $2,500 in charges after she passed away. I know who did the charging, but I don't know how to approach my sibling. Please advise me, as the estate is now in probate.

- Motherless in Missouri

Please accept my sympathy for the loss of your mother, as well as the loss of your illusions about your sibling. I see no reason for you to confront the person who did the stealing, but you should definitely report it to the lawyer handling your mother's probate.

Driven to drink

I am a well-educated, confident, attractive woman in my mid 30s. My job is in business development. My question is this: Do I need to be a social drinker to be successful? A male friend of mine often harps on how I make the other drinkers uncomfortable, and how people stay out late, drinking and discussing business deals until 3 or 4 in the morning. He says I must learn to have a drink or two - otherwise I won't be successful in getting any deals.

I never criticize others who drink, and I quietly order fruit juice when others are drinking. No one but this friend even notices it. But he often says loudly to the server that they should find some juice for me since I don't drink. I have tried to drink but, frankly, I don't enjoy it.

Also, I have seen my friend and some of the other men indulge in somewhat loose behavior as they keep having more drinks. I think I'd be wise to refrain from drinking. My friend says that because I am from another country, I am "different." His remarks are wearing me down; he recently started accusing me of not being good company.

Please tell me your thoughts on this. He is my best friend, but also has a temper.

- Needing Advice in Manhattan

For a "best friend," this man is behaving peculiarly. "Best friends" do not announce during a business dinner that a colleague is "different." He appears to be someone who has a drinking problem and is trying to coerce you into doing something that makes you uncomfortable so your sobriety won't make him feel guilty. This man has more problems than you're equipped to deal with, and he won't help you advance your career. My advice is to distance yourself from him.

Explain the situation

I am 35 years old and have been divorced for four years. Hypothetically speaking, if I decide to never remarry or if I remarry 20 years from now, what is my marital status between now and that time?

I consider myself single, not divorced. If I'm still single at the age of 55 - or 80, for that matter - I'd hate to refer to myself as "divorced," giving people the idea that I was divorced recently.

- In a Quandry

You may consider yourself single, not divorced, but if you were married and divorced four years ago, you're divorced. If you're still single at 55 - or 80, for that matter - tell the questioner you were "married at one time but it was many years ago."

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips.

Universal Press Syndicate

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