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by Abigail Van Buren

Hot Heads at Brunch Argue About Hats on and Off Table

DEAR ABBY: This letter is in response to "Troubled Mom in Washington," the grandmother who is raising the little girl. I would like her to hear the granddaughter's side:

I am 22 years old and would like to urge that woman to please continue to care for the child, for the child's sake. That child needs her. When I was 8, my father was murdered in a "supposed" drug deal. My mom had a nervous breakdown and lost all connection with reality. My stepdad mooched off our Social Security checks for dope and who knows what else, and left us practically penniless. As the oldest of three children, I assumed responsibility for my brother and sister and learned quickly what it was like to be a "mom." A neighbor would help us when she could, but otherwise we were pretty much on our own.

That is, until my grandmother rescued us. That year I entered the ninth grade weighing a pitiful 78 pounds, with a smile that had been pretty hard to come by. Grandma was 60 years old when she took in my mom, my brother and me. (My half-sister went with her father.) Grandma gave us all the love we hadn't had in a long time and desperately needed, and never once made us feel we were a nuisance. Grandma is a strong woman who's 67 years old now -- and I'm very grateful to her for rescuing us. -- LOVED GRANDDAUGHTER IN DUNCANVILLE, TEXAS

DEAR LOVED GRANDDAUGHTER: Your grandma is a matriarch -- truly the head of her family, and one who leads by example. That's often not an easy role to play, and I'm sure your loving tribute is justified. Orchids to Grandma.