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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: Several years ago my father-in-law suffered a stroke. He is now able to live by himself, but my husband, "Frank," and I deliver his meals, handle his finances and take him to his doctor's appointments.

My dilemma is that my father-in-law treats me better than he does Frank. It hurts Frank's feelings to hear his father say nasty things and accuse him of not helping. Frank is an only child, and he does everything for his father.

I promised Frank I would not say anything to his father about how unkind he is, but it gets harder every day to keep my mouth shut.

Frank and I are extremely close, and I can't stand to see him hurt. Should I stay out of it like I promised, or should I get more involved? -- ANGRY DAUGHTER-IN-LAW

DEAR ANGRY: Start by confidentially asking your father-in-law's doctor if the stroke affected the part of his brain that regulates personality, behavior and mood. If your father-in-law treated Frank more kindly before the stroke, his agitation may be the result of the illness.

Depression is common in stroke victims, and is treatable through medication, psychotherapy and behavior modification. If your father-in-law has any insight into his abusive behavior, it can be adjusted. If not, your husband, through counseling, must learn behavioral strategies so he can avoid "triggering" an emotional outburst from his father.

For more information, contact the National Stroke Association, 9707 E. Easter Lane, Englewood, CO 80112-3747. The telephone number is 1-800-STROKES (1-800-787-6537), and online:

DEAR ABBY: When is it proper to use a preprinted mailing label? Over the past year I have received thank-you notes, holiday cards and wedding invitations with mass-produced mailing labels stuck on the envelopes.

Whatever happened to handwritten names and addresses? Am I expecting too much? I feel as if the sender is rushed and ungrateful. -- UNGLUED IN MASSACHUSETTS

DEAR UNGLUED: While it is still considered proper to hand-address personal correspondence such as invitations and thank-you notes, people are so rushed these days that it is often more convenient to use printed labels. (Also, they are more legible.)

Ask yourself what is more important, the envelope or its contents?

DEAR ABBY: I read with interest the columns you printed about the importance of health-care professionals washing their hands. But what about food handlers?

Whenever I am at deli counters, I have had to ask the workers to please change their gloves. They leave the work area, open doors, go from bloody roast beef to cheese displays, then pleasantly ask, "May I help you?"

I have repeatedly requested that supermarket managers do something about it. Nothing gets done. It's disgusting. -- FRUSTRATED IN BRYANTVILLE, MASS.

DEAR FRUSTRATED: The employees you mentioned may not have received proper training; perhaps you would see some results if you complained to the county health department. If there isn't a regulation against this, there should be.

To order "How to Write Letters for All Occasions," send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Letter Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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