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Dear Abby 3/23

Sad memories of parents keep daughter away from graves

DEAR ABBY: My parents are both dead and have been for quite some time. Visiting the cemetery is, and always has been, very depressing to me, so I choose not to go.
    My problem is I have an older relative who says not going to the graves is a sign of disrespect. (She spits out the word with such venom!) Abby, I don't disrespect my parents at all. I just don't want to go to the cemetery and have all those sad memories flood back and cause me to feel awful again.
    I'd love to tell her that just because I don't agree with her doesn't make me wrong. So, is it a sign of disrespect not to visit a grave? I feel my parents are in heaven, not in the ground. -- SAD DAUGHTER IN JACKSON, MO.
    DEAR SAD DAUGHTER: Whether to visit someone's grave — and that includes one's parents' — is a personal choice. Going to the cemetery is not "proof of respect," because a person can be going to curse the grave as easily as to mourn.
    Your letter brings to mind a conversation I had with my mother years ago. Her mother was felled by a stroke at 57, when Mamma was only 23. I once asked her why she never went back to visit her mother's grave. Her reply: "Because she isn't there. She's in my heart."
    Your relative is wrong to try to make you feel guilty. The next time she does it, tune her out or change the subject.

    DEAR ABBY: My parents are in the middle of a nasty divorce. Ever since they separated, Dad has been accusing my mother of having an affair. I only recently found out that, in actuality, HE is the one having the affair. I used to live with him, but some horrible events happened and I moved out. Now Dad is writing me nasty e-mails.
    I know the reason he is doing it is because he knows that I know what he has been up to. Mother has no idea that he is having an affair. All she wants from the divorce is to keep what is hers and have custody of my youngest sister. (There are three of us.) My middle sister and I are on good terms with our mother, and only want the best for our little sister.
    Dad has already made it clear that he wants custody only for the money. He even told my little sister that, and she's only 12! I don't feel right letting Mother's name get trashed because of her "affair" with nobody, while he's out sleeping with this other woman. I have considered talking to her lawyer, but my fiance says I should stay out of it. What should I do? -- LOST AND CONFUSED IN THE SOUTH
    DEAR LOST AND CONFUSED: First, do not listen to your fiance. Talk to your mother, and then the two of you should visit her attorney. And while you're at it, be sure to take your little sister along and let her tell the lawyer that "Daddy" said he wanted her only for the money. Under no circumstances should he get custody of that child.
    DEAR ABBY: Why is it that people always say, "How are you?" in place of "Hello"? What should one say in response? I am so sick of answering, "Fine, how are you?" simply because that's what is expected.
    Can you give me another response that doesn't sound like a recording? -- FINE, THANK YOU, IN GASTONIA, N.C.
    DEAR FINE, THANK YOU: Absolutely. Say, "I'm hangin' in, hangin' out, hangin' on, and sometimes just hangin'." (Please don't hang me on this one!)

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