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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: Please print this so my feelings of love and undying gratitude will reach the young woman who is the birth mother of my new granddaughter.

My daughter and her husband, after years of indescribable pain and disappointment, just went to the hospital to pick up their brand-new baby girl. Their joy and happy tears would warm the coldest of hearts.

I want the birth mother to know that her love, courage and feelings of loss have not been forgotten in our moments of joy. Your baby will know from the beginning that you had choices and you chose to give her life. You performed the most unselfish act I can imagine, and I question if I would have had your strength of character.

Saying thank you seems inadequate. I wish I could put my arms around you and say "I love you," and I hope my new granddaughter inherits your heart and courage. May the rest of your life be blessed as you have blessed ours. -- HAPPY NEW GRANDMOTHER, DALLAS

DEAR HAPPY GRANDMOTHER: I'm sure your letter will warm the hearts of tens of thousands of young mothers who have placed their precious infants for adoption. I'm certain very few of them wanted to give her child away, and the sacrifice was made to ensure the baby had a better future than she could provide.

DEAR ABBY: Three weeks before our wedding day, my fiance canceled our engagement with only a feeble explanation. We had gone together for five years.

What should I do with the bridesmaid dresses (that he paid for), the engraved invitations and my beautiful fitted wedding gown? Would it be tacky to keep it for the future? -- DISAPPOINTED IN PENNSYLVANIA

DEAR DISAPPOINTED: Sometimes good fortune comes disguised as disaster. Under the circumstances, ask the bridesmaids if they would like to keep the dresses. If they decline, give or sell them to a consignment shop -- and, yes, give the money to your ex-fiance. Throw away the invitations, but because you love it, keep your beautiful wedding gown. Have a quality dry cleaner carefully preserve it for a happier wedding day in the future.

DEAR ABBY: I have not seen my problem in your column, so I thought I would write and get your opinion.

"Tony" and I are not married, but we have lived together for more than 15 years. I have always been included in his family's celebrations and have helped them in times of crisis.

Tony's sister died a few months ago. Of course, I attended the funeral. What stuck in my craw was that her relatives -- from parents to nieces and nephews -- were listed as survivors in the obituary, but my name was not included. I am hurt by the omission.

Considering the length of my relationship with Tony, shouldn't I have been named in the obituary? -- LEFT OUT IN MINNEAPOLIS

DEAR LEFT OUT: Regardless of how close a relationship one may have with a relative of the deceased, traditionally only family members are named in the obituary. Technically, you are a friend of the family, not a relative. Sorry.

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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