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DEAR ABBY: A friend of 40 years got mad at me after the last presidential election. I told her I didn't want to talk politics, since we voted for different candidates. She then emailed me saying she thought we should take a break from our long-distance phone calls. We had been calling each other every two weeks to catch up.

Because it has now been more than a year, I emailed her, texted her and finally left a message on her answering machine asking if she was still mad. (I did this over a period of a week.) Then I got worried, since she's in her 80s. I finally called her daughter and was told she was in the hospital recovering from heart surgery. When her daughter told her I was trying to get in touch, I received a text that read, "Not mad. Just don't want to talk."

I hate to give up on a long friendship. Her birthday is coming up. Should I send her a birthday card, or respect her wishes and give up? — OLD FRIEND IN FLORIDA

DEAR OLD FRIEND: Please don't jump to conclusions. People in the early stages of recovery from major surgery may not feel up to long discussions until they are stronger. By all means, send your friend a birthday card and include in it that you treasure your friendship and wish her a speedy and complication-free recovery. After that, the ball is in her court.

DEAR ABBY: I have been married to a lovely woman for 40 years. I recently found out that five years into our marriage she had an affair with a friend of ours. It lasted several weeks, during which they would meet at our house over the lunch hour.

My wife does not know this friend, having recently found religion, has confessed to me. I had suspected it for a few years. Should I tell her I know or just go on as though nothing happened? — IN THE KNOW IN ILLINOIS

DEAR IN THE KNOW: I cannot guess what justification this "friend" has given for trying to clear his conscience by telling you something that could destroy your marriage. The punishment for his guilt should have been the burden of carrying it to his grave without sharing it with you. If his confession will erode your relationship with your wife, tell her what you were told so you can talk it through.

DEAR ABBY: My neighbor's husband died of COVID-related problems. I was never officially informed. About a week later, his clothing, favorite chair and other items were put on the curb in a free pile. While the pile is now gone, my concern is for the people who took the items. I will let you inform the world what might be the better solution. — PANICKED IN OREGON

DEAR PANICKED: I am glad to do that. The information is available to anyone who is interested. Folks, it's as near as your computer. Fire it up and go to cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/faq.html, where you will find a "Frequently Asked Questions" section with information about how the virus is spread and how to avoid contracting it. From what I have read, germs on surfaces are less likely to spread the virus than person-to-person contact.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

To receive a collection of Abby's most memorable — and most frequently requested — poems and essays, send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby — Keepers Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

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Jeanne Phillips
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