Dear Annie: An old acquaintance agreed to look in on my cat while I was on vacation. Upon my return, I noticed that the lock had been picked on the door to the room where I keep my valuables. My purses, dressers and closets had been rummaged through. Missing are several antique silver pieces and the contents of my jewelry box. There are dozens of other items I have yet to find.

Since my acquaintance is a respectable, churchgoing woman who wants for nothing, I find it hard to believe she would do such a thing. I asked whether she had let anyone else into my house, and she said, "No."

There was no forced entry, and no one else had access to my home. What should I do? — Thou Shalt Not Steal

Thou Shalt Not Steal: Report the theft to the police immediately. It's possible someone else broke into your home and your friend is unaware of it. She may have accidentally left the door unlocked on one of her trips in or out of the house. And she could be a thief or a kleptomaniac. Don't accuse her. Simply tell her you noticed several items were missing from your home and notified the police. Say you wanted to let her know because they may need her help.

Dear Annie: My youngest child passed away a few years ago, and it took my husband and me quite some time to find a headstone perfect enough to be the last thing we would ever buy for our child.

My daughter and I cleaned and polished the headstone and put beautiful flower arrangements in the vases we had built on each side. We made sure the flowers were yellow and white. The problem is, a few days later, my mother-in-law took blue and purple flowers and stuck them in the same vase.

Although I truly appreciate that my in-laws want to bring flowers, I want these vases for my arrangements only. Putting together the colors involves a lot of tears and emotions because it makes me feel like I'm still taking care of my child.

How do I respectfully tell my in-laws to stop messing up my arrangements and to instead put their flowers in those plastic vases that stick in the ground? Is it wrong for me to feel this way? — Unsure in Oklahoma

Dear Unsure: You can't help how you feel, but surely you realize that your in-laws are also grieving and want to "take care of" their grandchild, too. They aren't trying to usurp your efforts. They are trying to contribute to them.

Approach this in a spirit of cooperation. Explain that you'd like the side vases reserved for specific arrangements. Ideally, you would allow them to add to those arrangements and feel a part of your efforts. But if not, provide them with a few plastic vases and ask if they would place their flowers in those. Make sure you tell them how much you appreciate their assistance in brightening the gravesite. We also suggest you contact The Compassionate Friends ( at 1-877- 969-0010, a wonderful organization for those whose children have died.

Dear Annie: I agree with your suggestion that "Lonesome's" wife should contact the American Cancer Society, but I believe your response lacked compassion for him. This man has bent over backward in his concern.

As a five-year cancer survivor who has to wear a pad because of leakage and sees the scar that runs from my waistline all the way down, I know what this does to one's self-esteem. But cuddling doesn't always lead to arousal, and sometimes a person just wants to hold the person he loves.

Your assumption that "Lonesome" is only interested in sex is female-biased. You need to cut him some slack. — Living, Loving in Illinois

Dear Living: We realize some information was lost in the editing process, but even so, you are right that we should have acknowledged his patience over the past several years. He obviously loves his wife, and we hope they can work this out.

Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to, or write to: Annie's Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 5777 W. Century Blvd., Ste. 700, Los Angeles, CA 90045. ©