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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: This is for "Hot and Tired in Texas," whose father-in-law was upset because her baby was due on his birthday and he didn't want the "competition."

I was born on Dec. 21, my grandfather's birthday. No matter how much love my parents showered on me, I didn't feel "special" because I couldn't have birthday parties that were separate from the Christmas rush. Few parents wanted to take the time to haul their children to a kid's birthday party, many families were out of town, etc.

My grandfather, Alvin Johnson, was a simple, hard-working man who never said much. He wasn't a big talker. But he stood bravely and lovingly by his wife for eight years as she battled, and finally succumbed, to breast cancer.

When I was 15, my father and I went on our weekly visit to see my grandfather. That afternoon, he wasn't up to our usual visit to his favorite restaurant. Dad was worried about him, but he went on to the restaurant to pick up Grandpa's favorite pie. After Dad left, Grandpa walked to the window and stared out. I joined him, and we stood in silence together.

Finally, he turned and really looked at me. Very slowly, he said, "You were the best birthday present I ever got." I was stunned. He had never said anything so sweet to me. When Father returned, we had pie and ice cream with my grandfather for the last time. He died four days later. Abby, his words were the most meaningful birthday present I ever received. I have since learned to love and cherish my birthday. I hope "Hot and Tired's" father-in-law will learn that sharing a birthday with a family member is special, and that a healthy grandchild born on any day is a blessing. -- MINDY JOHNSON, SANTA MONICA, CALIF.

DEAR MINDY: Your letter touched my heart. Your grandfather's special words to you were, indeed, a priceless gift.

"Hot and Tired's" father-in-law has a lot of growing up to do. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: "Hot and Tired's" father-in-law should be ashamed. If you print my letter, I hope everyone he knows sends him a copy.

I'd be thrilled to share any day of the year with my granddaughter, but that's not possible. On Easter of this year, my beautiful granddaughter was stillborn due to a rare and undetected umbilical cord problem. My daughter had no complications during her pregnancy, so our loss was sudden and unexpected.

Maybe "Tired's" father-in-law would like to trade places with us: We'll go to the party next year, and he can visit the cemetery. -- RAVEN'S GRANNIE IN TENNESSEE

DEAR GRANNIE: My heartfelt sympathy for the tragic stillbirth of your granddaughter. I, too, hope "Hot and Tired's" father-in-law sees your letter. Perhaps it will help him reorganize his priorities.

Read on:

DEAR ABBY: I have two daughters from a biracial marriage. My older daughter, Sakura, was born the same day as her Japanese grandfather. My younger daughter, Mari, shares a birthday with her American grandfather. Both grandfathers were not only delighted, but amazed because they are both mathematicians, and they say the odds of this happening were astronomical and heaven-sent.

If these two men, who fought on opposing sides during World War II, can see eye-to-eye on the joys of life and God's good graces, why can't the guy in Texas do likewise? -- GERRY CHRISTMAS (MY REAL NAME), CARRBORO, N.C.

DEAR GERRY: Right on! What a perceptive observation!

For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more attractive person, order "How to Be Popular." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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