DEAR ABBY: My sister, "Laurel," is a single mother with one child. She drives my husband, "Rick," berserk when they are around each other for an extended period of time. Unfortunately, Laurel recently split up with her boyfriend. She has few friends and insists on being my best friend -- including herself in my family's dinner plans and vacations.
Before the breakup, we were planning to visit an elderly aunt -- Rick and I with our daughter in one car; Laurel, her boyfriend and her daughter in the other car.
However, now that Laurel's boyfriend has left, she wants to make this an "all-girls trip" and exclude my husband! I informed her that Rick is going, and furthermore there would be separate accommodations and separate cars. Laurel now insists that she will camp out in our hotel room, and she will not take "no" for an answer. -- FED-UP SISTER IN CALIFORNIA
DEAR FED-UP: Your sister is off base. There's no reason why you and Rick should share your hotel room with your sister, or that Rick should be excluded because Laurel doesn't currently have a man in her life. If you can't make her see reason, you and your husband should talk to her together.
DEAR ABBY: We just lost three perfect little boys, our triplets. They were born prematurely. Many people have been kind to us, yet we have been stunned by the insensitivity of others.
The day our triplets died, a doctor went to my wife in the hospital and said, "Look, it wasn't meant to work out. People aren't supposed to have litters."
My wife's hairdresser, on hearing the news, said, "Who would want three babies anyhow?"
To such people, I'd suggest they think of the three people they care most about in the world, and then imagine them all dying in front of you. -- SAD FATHER IN CONNECTICUT
DEAR SAD FATHER: Please accept my sincere sympathy for the tragic loss of your beloved baby boys. I'm sure the doctor and the hairdresser didn't mean to be unkind; however, their comments were enormously insensitive. Babies can't be replaced, but people in service-oriented businesses can.
DEAR ABBY: With all the discussion of the difficulties that might occur because of the Y2K problem, it's easy for most people to assume that it's only a computer problem -- but it isn't.
Thirty years ago, when my mother died, my father purchased cemetery lots and headstones for our entire family. My headstone reads, "Born 1939, Died 19( )."
Abby, I'm sure you can see the problem. If I live beyond the last day of December, I'll have to have that headstone refilled and recut with "Died 20( )." -- DONALD SCHAFFER, SAN DIEGO
DEAR DONALD: Consider yourself blessed to have such a problem. Why not add a line? For example: "19( ) ... to be continued." Or, "Just couldn't leave. Stuck around until 20( )." With a sense of humor, the possibilities are endless.
To receive a collection of Abby's most memorable -- and most frequently requested -- poems and essays, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby's "Keepers," P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)
4520 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64111; (816) 932-6600