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DEAR ABBY: I taught school for 30 years and used your column many times to foster rich discussions in the classroom. You have always addressed the problems in society squarely, and in doing so, given readers springboards from which to launch dialogues of their own.

The recent letter from "Niece in Troy, N.Y.," discussing why people should make an effort to visit relatives who can no longer communicate as they once did, really hit home.

I am in the "sandwich" generation. I am a grandmother with seven grandchildren, and I have both parents and a former mother-in-law who are in varying forms of dementia.

Recently, while I was driving two of my granddaughters to my house, we passed the elder care home where my former mother-in-law now resides. She is the great-grandmother to the little girls. As we went by, Sophia, who is 4 years old, said, "That's where Nonie lives."

"That's right," I answered, and continued driving.

"But, Gran," she asked, "aren't we going to stop and check on her?" Of course, we did.

At that moment, I realized what a wonderful job my son and his wife had done. Their children were being taught compassion, caring and responsibility to those who could no longer care for themselves.

None of us knows how we are going to end up. I feel proud knowing that my children are teaching their children values. -- "GRAN" IN SACRAMENTO

DEAR "GRAN": You have every reason to be proud of your children and grandchildren.

P.S. I'm sure they learned a lot about compassion from you.

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