DEAR ABBY: My husband (my second, and I am his third wife) and I just returned from a fantastic trip throughout Asia. While removing a piece of luggage from the conveyor belt at JFK Airport, my husband's wedding ring flew off his finger. He glanced at and around the belt for about 12 seconds, shrugged his shoulders, turned and headed for the exit. I, and many of our fellow travelers, continued to look for it.

I called out to him as he was walking away and said that we should probably notify someone and give them our information if it was found. His response was, "Not worth it" and a simple head shake, leaving most of us with dropped jaws.

We celebrated our third wedding anniversary on that trip. We have been together for 14 years, and during that time, he proposed in several very romantic and loving ways. We had a delightful relationship up to the point of his losing the ring, but I realize now I was the only one who took the symbolism of our wedding rings seriously.

I am hurt, disappointed and embarrassed by his actions. He says I'm overreacting and that he didn't want to wear one anyway. (I never asked or expected him to get one. He got it only because he had "cashed in" his former spouse's engagement and wedding ring set that she had left behind in a drawer.) What is your take on this matter? — DEEPER MEANING IN PENNSYLVANIA

DEAR DEEPER MEANING: I do find it unusual that your husband made such a feeble attempt to find the ring. However, my take on this is you should — if you are smart — thank your higher power for the wonderful relationship you have shared with this man the last 14 years (married for three) and not ruin what you have by blowing this out of proportion. What you have with him is more precious than any tangible item — the lost wedding band in particular. If he prefers not to replace it, let it go.

 

DEAR ABBY: My daughter-in-law is the only member of our extended local family who drinks alcohol. I think she may be an alcoholic. At family events she becomes nasty when she drinks, but she thinks she's clever and amusing.

For the last 10 years I have kept my mouth shut and never mentioned it. Am I enabling? Should I say something to alert her to how she is coming across? Other family members feel the same as I do. — NON-DRINKER IN MICHIGAN

DEAR NON-DRINKER: This woman is married to your son. How does he feel about this? One of the warning signs of an alcohol problem is a personality change when the person has been drinking. Not only should you point out to your daughter-in-law that she has a problem, but the relatives who feel as you do should approach her with you. It is called an "intervention," and it should have happened years ago.

There are programs that can help your daughter-in-law — AA is one of several — but only if she recognizes she has a problem. Al-Anon is a resource for friends and family who are affected by a loved one's drinking. Find it at al-anon.org and attend some meetings. You will find them enlightening.

P.S. If you see her verbally abuse someone while she is drinking, don't stand quietly by. Say something.

 

DEAR ABBY: I was a bit shocked when I read about the family who disposed of 17 casseroles they were given while they were grieving the loss of a loved one ("Enough Is Too Much," July 5). When my dad died, family flooded into our small town. We got casseroles, too, but more appreciated was the huge plastic container filled with all sorts of sandwiches we could grab when hungry.

Someone else brought a 10-pound bag of coffee and creamers to go with it. Another brought restaurant gift cards, stamps and a box of thank-you notes. Years later, when our son died, many wonderful people gave money. Since he left two children, it was very much appreciated. — THANKFUL IN WASHINGTON

DEAR THANKFUL: Readers like you were eager to share their opinions — and experiences — regarding the tradition of delivering food to a grieving family. The responses were diverse and enlightening. The media provides so much coverage about hatred and violence. I was touched by the outpouring of kindness. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: If you collect more casseroles than you can handle, why not consider taking them to a homeless shelter? Take them to seniors who aren't able to cook. Take them to a convalescent home or to a library that gives free lunches to the needy. Take them to a food bank. It's awful to throw good food away! — GAIL IN LOS OSOS, CALIF.

DEAR ABBY: There's no reason to turn away loving gifts of food. Talk to a few neighbors and store some of the casseroles at their houses, letting them know it's OK to enjoy them if you haven't picked them up in a day or two. Lots of people have extra refrigerators or freezers, so the food doesn't have to go to waste. — DENISE IN BAYTOWN, TEXAS

DEAR ABBY: After my husband passed away, several people brought paper products (toilet paper, paper towels, napkins, facial tissue, paper plates and cups, trash sacks, etc.). I have done this for bereaved families as well. Because the family will have lots of people dropping in, a supply of these products will be used and do not need to be stored. A book of stamps in a sympathy card is also useful. — SUE IN MERRIMAN, NEB.

DEAR ABBY: In my community, we have often organized a sign-up sheet for people to bring meals to a mourning family during a two-week period instead of bringing a casserole immediately. (We also do this in times of illness.) I think it's deeply appreciated and prevents the kind of waste described in "Enough's" letter. — LAUREN IN PALO ALTO, CALIF.

DEAR ABBY: No one should be putting casseroles down the disposal when they should be put into the trash if not shared with others. My concern is that water utilities across the country are being overwhelmed and at the breaking point because of waste inappropriately disposed through a city's water system. — GIVE UTILITIES A BREAK!

DEAR ABBY: We had a celebration of life for my husband in our home. Many people brought food, far more than our family could use. After folks left, we took the casseroles, boxes of chicken and desserts to our fire and police stations. The men and women there were thrilled. It was a good use of the food and a way to thank those who serve the community. — KATHRYN IN PEACHTREE CITY, GA.