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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.

Sweets make nice gifts

Dear Abby: I’m in a bind when it comes to hostess gifts. 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.

Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.