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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: Eight months ago, I moved in with my aunt and her son, my cousin "Billy." Billy's parents divorced several years ago, and his dad abruptly cut off all communication with Billy and his older brother. This hurt both boys very much.

Billy is now 22 and harbors great anger toward his father. It is understandable. But Billy takes his anger out on his mother and me. He pushes us away and has withdrawn from all family members and friends.

I try to give Billy his space. Although I would like to help him, I'm afraid that trying to talk to him -- even to offer support -- will make him feel even more vulnerable and defensive. He's not comfortable talking about his feelings. He reacts emotionally and plays the blame game.

I'm worried about my once kind and easygoing cousin, and about whether he can pull himself together and get on with his life.

How can I talk to Billy without escalating his anger? I want so badly to help. -- T.C. IN STATEN ISLAND, N.Y.

DEAR T.C.: Billy needs more help than you are equipped to give him. While his anger at his father is understandable, the blame game solves nothing, and he's focusing his anger on the wrong people. Isolating himself from family and friends is a clue that Billy has more problems than he's revealing to you. Tell him you love him and that you care -- and urge him to get professional counseling.

DEAR ABBY: A couple of years ago, my wife, sweetheart and lifetime companion for 63 years was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. When I could no longer care for her, I placed her in a nursing facility.

We have three children, all married; nine grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. It's heartbreaking, but she no longer recognizes any members of our family.

Last week, my daughter took me to see my wife. I held her hand and said, "Honey, do you remember that today is your birthday?" She didn't say a word. I continued, "Today you are 84. So now we are the same age. I am also 84." She looked up at me and said, "You look like you're 104."

On the way home, my daughter said, "Dad, maybe Mom is not as bad as we thought." -- BILL ANDREWS, PRAIRIE VILLAGE, KAN.

DEAR BILL: Funn-ee. Although circumstances have not been kind to you and your wife, she hasn't lost her sense of humor -- and neither have you and your daughter.

DEAR ABBY: An average of nearly three children under the age of 15 die each day in U.S. house fires, and 80 percent of these deaths occur in homes without working smoke alarms. Smoke alarms double a family's chance of surviving a home fire -- but only if they work.

We members of the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) and Energizer urge families to change the batteries in their smoke alarms when they change their clocks back to standard time. This year, "Change Your Clock, Change Your Battery" takes place on Sunday, Oct. 28. We would appreciate your reminding your readers about the importance of maintaining working smoke alarms with fresh batteries every year. -- CHIEF JOHN M. BUCKMAN III, IAFC PRESIDENT

DEAR CHIEF BUCKMAN: Gladly. Changing clocks AND smoke alarm batteries at the end of daylight-saving time is a lifesaving ritual that everyone should practice without fail. Readers, buy your batteries today so you'll have them ready for Sunday, Oct. 28.

Dear Abby is written by Pauline Phillips and daughter Jeanne Phillips.

For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order "How to Have a Lovely Wedding." Send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby, Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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