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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I have three grown children between the ages of 30 and 40. This past Mother's Day, I received no card or gift from any of them. Oh, one child finally left a message on my answering machine late in the evening after I had given up hope and gone to bed. (I found it the next morning.)

My heartache increased with every hour of Mother's Day, and in the days that followed when I looked in vain in my mailbox for a belated card and waited for my phone to ring with a call of apology.

I admit I haven't been a perfect mother, but I think I am worthy of being acknowledged on Mother's Day. From the time they were born, I have given my children -- and their children -- my love and support and have always remembered them on their special days.

Although my heartache has diminished, I cringe at the thought of facing another Mother's Day, and yet I don't want to chastise them for ignoring me because I would never know if future remembrances were done only out of a sense of duty.

Abby, do you have any words of wisdom to comfort me? -- IGNORED MOTHER

DEAR IGNORED MOTHER: Sorry, I have no words of wisdom to comfort you, but I do have a question: How do your children treat you the other 364 days of the year?

DEAR ABBY: About May or June of each year, people begin to receive graduation invitations from nieces, nephews, grandnephews and grandnieces they have rarely seen and with whom they have had no communication whatsoever.

Well, what I do may not be right, but I write the graduates a letter to let them know that I am pleased with their status, and state that I wish I had the opportunity to know them better and hope they will make an effort to stay in touch with me in the future.

I send no gift, no check -- nothing but my congratulations. Abby, what do you and your readers have to say about how I handle the situation? -- IGNORED IN FLORIDA

DEAR IGNORED: I think you handle the situation admirably in view of the circumstances.

DEAR ABBY: Many people write to you complaining about receiving catalogs in the mail. They call it "junk mail."

I disagree. I'm an older woman and don't drive. If I want to shop locally, one of my children has to drive me, then wait until I get my shopping done. I hate to inconvenience them, so I shop through catalogs for birthday and Christmas gifts, clothing, shoes, even fishing gear. That way, I can shop at my leisure, compare prices and find items that are otherwise impossible to find. I love catalogs. You may use my name. -- ELIZABETH MC GREW IN RENO, NEV.

DEAR ELIZABETH MC GREW: You are not alone. Many readers have written to say that catalogs are the answer to their prayers. Small wonder that catalogs are now a multibillion-dollar business.

DEAR ABBY: My wife's aunt and uncle were married for 46 years; then they divorced. Neither remarried during the next four years. They then decided that their divorce was a mistake, so they remarried and have been married for the past four years.

They now want to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. Can they? Should they?

Some relatives think it's a great idea, but a few others think that because their 50 years of marriage have not been continuous, they do not qualify for this honor.

Abby, what do you and your readers think? -- NO CITY OR STATE, PLEASE

DEAR NO CITY: I think they should go ahead and celebrate their 50th.

For Abby's favorite family recipes, send a long, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Cookbooklet No. 1, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

4900 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64112; (816) 932-6600