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Dear Abby: Far-flung family makes little effort to stay in touch
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Dear Abby

Dear Abby: Far-flung family makes little effort to stay in touch

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DEAR ABBY: I am a 72-year-old divorcee. I live alone in a 55-and-older community where I have many friends and an active life.

My three adult children are ages 37 to 43. The eldest lives out of the country with my 12-year-old grandson. My other son and his wife live 2,000 miles away and have two young children, one of whom I saw once three years ago. My daughter lives with her husband an hour and a half away. I see them about twice a year.

My daughter will sometimes answer an email or text, sometimes not. My sons almost never contact me, not even on my birthday or Mother's Day. From what I understand, they have little communication with their father or each other, either.

Is this normal? It breaks my heart. This isn't how I raised them. I always encouraged them to maintain a relationship with their father and their grandmother. Is there anything I can do? -- SO SAD IN THE EAST

DEAR SO SAD: I'm sorry for your heartache, and there IS something you can do. Concentrate on your friends, people who are willing to return your emotional investment. You should also ignore Mother's Day, which is an emotionally loaded holiday that causes pain not only to mothers like you, but also to those who have recently lost their mothers. I think you have suffered enough, don't you?

DEAR ABBY: My mother-in-law, "Gladys," has never liked to shop from a gift list. She prefers to look on her own for a gift she thinks the person would like. My problem is, most of the things she buys are atrocious.

My husband and I are expecting our first child -- her first grandchild -- and although we sent her the link, she has already purchased items not on our registry. I am gracious, Abby. I thank her verbally and follow up with a note in the mail. However, we don't have enough room for all the items to use just when she visits, so I plan to quietly return or donate them.

When she's here and asks why we're not using her gifts, what do I say? I'd prefer not to lie and say something like "the dog chewed it up," nor do I want to be brutally honest and tell her I found the things she bought too ugly. -- MOM-IN-WAITING

DEAR MOM-IN-WAITING: Find a wide, shallow box that will fit under a bed. Select some of the "atrocious" gifts and use them when Grandma Gladys comes to visit. If she asks why you're not using all of them, explain that because you already had some of the gifts she sent, you donated hers to a needy family who could enjoy them. (It's a diplomatic version of the truth.)

DEAR ABBY: I'm a single woman in my 30s, not a Mrs. and too young for Ma'am. Am I a Ms.? What do they all stand for? -- IN BETWEEN M'S

DEAR IN BETWEEN: You qualify for "Ms.," if you wish to use it. As you know, "Miss" is the term used to denote an unmarried woman. After consciousness was raised regarding equal rights for women, some began using "Ms." in the workplace when they preferred not to reveal their marital status. Traditionally, in the South, women over 21 are called "Ma'am" as a sign of respect. Farther north it's applied to mature women, although not all of them appreciate hearing it directed at them.

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DEAR ABBY: A year ago, my husband and I bought our first home together. We love it and are excited to improve the house and the property. One of our neighbors is an elderly woman who had previously assumed that part of our property belonged to her. Without conducting a survey, she planted several trees on what is, in fact, our land, and they have grown to block our views. She also erected an unpermitted fence that crosses onto our property. We have since pruned and/or removed a few of the trees.

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DEAR ABBY: I'm a 24-year-old woman who has been married for four years. My husband, "Jerry," and I have two young boys. Jerry is military. I stay at home with the kids and work part time online on an associate degree. We struggle financially, but our basic needs are met and, overall, I'm happy with my life.

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DEAR ABBY: When my husband and I were first married, I had no idea why his mother and sisters were so hostile. When they started treating our children the same way, my husband finally addressed the issue. We moved out of town, and he finally told me that when he was in his teens and early 20s, he had had sex with all of them, which was why they didn't like me.

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