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by Abigail Van Buren

Ad for Grave Marker's Maker Should Not Be Set in Stone

DEAR ABBY: My dear father passed away recently. My mother ordered a headstone in my father's memory from a local business.

By coincidence, my children and I went to visit my father's place of rest in the late afternoon on the day that the headstone was installed. While saying some prayers for my father, my 9-year-old daughter noticed a tag on the headstone. Upon taking a closer look, I discovered that it was a metal business card that had been wedged into the concrete between the base of the headstone and the top portion. The business card had the name and telephone number of the "monument designer" on it.

I immediately pulled the metal business card out of the drying concrete. Had we come to visit my father's place of rest a day later, that advertisement would have been cemented into eternity along with my father's memory.

How dare anyone attempt to take advantage of such a solemn and personal situation to further his business interests! Your comments, please. – DAUGHTER FROM WESTFIELD, N.J.

DEAR DAUGHTER: Your letter is a first. A "monument designer" who regards a headstone as a billboard has no concept of the sensitivities of family members who might see it. It's in such poor taste that I almost wonder if it wasn't placed there by his biggest competitor.

DEAR ABBY: My husband and I are both in our 80s. I recently ran across a column of yours that I have saved these many years. I thought you might like to reprint it. Perhaps some grandchildren or their young parents might be helped by it. –- GRANDMA OF SIX

DEAR GRANDMA: The topic of that letter recurs regularly, and you're right –- the grandchildren and young parents who "forgot" this courtesy might be helped by reading it again. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: On my son's 16th birthday, he received a birthday card from his grandparents on his father's side. (His father and I are divorced.) "Grandma Jones" added the following handwritten message on the card: "Sorry, Billy, no money this time because we received no thank-you for the money we sent with our card last year. Lots of love, Grandma and Grandpa Jones."

Abby, although these grandparents are retired and living on a fixed income, they are far from poor. It wouldn't have hurt them to have enclosed a $10 bill. It would have made the difference between my son feeling good or bad on his birthday.

I wrote to my ex-mother-in-law and told her what I thought about her birthday message to Billy. I haven't heard from her since, and I don't expect to.

What do you (and your readers) think about the message a grandmother sent to her grandson on his 16th birthday? –- BURNED UP IN BUTTE

DEAR BURNED: I think Grandma may have given Billy a birthday gift that was far more valuable than a $10 bill.

For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more attractive person, order "How to Be Popular." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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