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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I have a suggestion for "Lonely in New Mexico." When my husband and I moved to a small town in Washington, we located a vacant lot and bought it with plans to build a home there. As I walked around the neighborhood, I saw only one person outdoors. I approached him and said, "I'm going to be your neighbor." I invited him and his wife to meet us for breakfast once a week at a local restaurant, and told him that I planned to ask more neighbors to join us.

Little by little, more couples joined us for the weekly breakfast. As new neighbors moved in, I invited them to join us. As the "breakfast club" grew, I prepared a list of names, addresses and phone numbers to share so we would all know how to reach one another.

Now this club also has dinner together three times a year, and we arrange to have entertainment for those parties. "Lonely in New Mexico" should consider taking the initiative to organize her neighbors into a social group. At our meetings, we have discovered who has hobbies and common interests, so we can ask for guidance on projects or company on fishing trips. We have no agenda for the club other than friendship.

We have been meeting for eight years and greatly enjoy our weekly get-togethers. Of course, not all of our 80 neighbors attend every meeting, but enough show up so that a good time is had by all. -- JEAN J. TVRDY, SEQUIM, WASH.

DEAR JEAN: Yours is an idea worth publicizing. Where there's a will, there's a way to accomplish almost anything. You are to be commended for originating such a far-reaching good-neighbor program. I hope "Lonely in New Mexico" heeds your excellent suggestion.

DEAR ABBY: In response to "Caught in the Middle in Connecticut," whose family disapproves of his love for an older woman who has a teen-age child, I would like to give him a bit of encouragement because my husband is six years younger than I am.

When we met he was 28 and I was 34. I am of Polynesian descent, was married twice before, and had a child out of wedlock. Believe me, my mother-in-law was not thrilled with me. She not only opposed our getting married, she was extremely against our having children together.

However, our relationship has endured and strengthened. We have been married 13 years. We have two beautiful children in addition to my son and his son.

Where there is love, commitment and communication between two people, age and past history make no difference. Also, my husband has never been one to let others interfere in his life, not even his mother. After all this time, she finally has accepted me as her daughter-in-law.

If he really cares for his older girlfriend, he should stay with her. It's their future, not his family's. -- TIME-TESTED IN ARIZONA

DEAR TIME-TESTED: I agree that the young man's future belongs to him. However, he may be emotionally tied to -- or perhaps financially dependent upon -- his parents, which is why they are giving him an ultimatum. The choice is his, but I cautioned him about making hasty decisions.

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