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Dear Ann Landers: I'm an adult female who likes things neat and organized. My mother, on the other hand, is a pack rat and a terrible housekeeper. She has always been this way, and although I ignored it when I was growing up, I am less tolerant now.

I don't care what my mother does in her own home, but when she comes to visit me, I resent the way she turns my place into a pigsty. She puts dirty dishes back in the cupboards, leaves half-empty soda cans all over the place, stashes newspapers behind the sofa, and leaves her clothes on the floor or draped around chairs. My polite requests and desperate pleas to "neaten up" are ignored. She says I'm a clean freak, and to "lay off."

Am I unreasonable? Should I allow my mother to behave any way she pleases when she visits and keep my mouth shut?

-- Too Neat in Virginia?
Dear Virginia: It appears that your mother is a bit of a slob, and I'm sorry about that, but I know of no way to retrain a mother. Accept her the way she is, because she is not going to change. One of these days, you would give a lot to see your mother's clothes draped over the chairs and newspapers behind the sofa, and you'll be glad you didn't make a big deal out of it. Trust me.

Back in the saddle

Dear Ann Landers: I am a 78-year-old man who needs your advice about my daughters and sisters. I lost my only son to illness three years ago, and five months after that, my wife of 50 years died of cancer. I was devastated, and it took me a long time to start functioning again. In the past year, I have managed to get out a bit with my daughters, but it does not fill the emptiness inside. I want someone to love and cuddle, laugh and spend the rest of my days with. I miss the company and intimacy of having a female companion.

A few months ago, I began to take out a lovely woman, and that is when the trouble began. My sisters and daughters don't approve of my dating, and they do not care for the woman I am seeing. One daughter said it is a poor reflection on her mother's memory, and that I should not be dating anyone.

My children and sisters invite me to parties, but they don't want me to bring anyone. I do not enjoy going alone. Also, I suffered a heart attack and underwent bypass surgery not long ago, and would prefer to have someone with me instead of being by myself. It makes me feel more secure. Please give me some advice.

-- Longtime Reader in San Diego
Dear Longtime Reader: At age 78, you have earned the right to march to your own drummer. If you enjoy dating, go ahead and do it. Your children and sisters need not be consulted, nor do you need their approval. If your relatives continue to voice their disapproval, tell them to write to me, and I will set them straight.

Problems? Dump on Ann. Write her at The Buffalo News, P.O. Box 100, Buffalo, N.Y. 14240.

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