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by Abigail Van Buren

Longtime Dislike for Doctors Explains Mom's Short Life

DEAR ABBY: When I opened the newspaper today, in the front section was a photograph of Lucille Ball. Her blue eyes, red hair and lovely smile reminded me of my mother. My mother was only 49 when she passed away last month.

Mom had a hard life. She was weak from the beginning. She weighed 1 pound at birth and had only one lung. Her whole life, she hated going to doctors. I try to comfort my stepfather because he blamed himself for not forcing Mother to consult a doctor when she first started feeling sick.

Abby, please tell your readers that if they have a parent who is sick, and he or she says, "Don't worry about me, I'll be fine," TAKE CHARGE. Sick people don't always know what's good for them, especially when they're as stubborn as a red-headed woman. -- OLDEST DAUGHTER MISSING MOM

DEAR DAUGHTER: I offer my condolences for the loss of your beloved mother, who died at such an early age.

I'm pleased to pass along your important message. Sometimes serious symptoms can be "vague" -- as in heart problems in women. If they persist, the safest thing is to have them checked by a physician. There's truth to the saying, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." In a case like this, an ounce of prevention can be lifesaving.

DEAR ABBY: I am facing a serious problem. I have an 18-month-old son. His father refuses to do anything for him -- with the exception of supporting him financially. He considers our child to be an 18-year debt -- not a son.

I'm 21 and can make it without his support. I want to terminate this man's rights to my son and stop the support payments. My little boy will never know this man as a loving father, and I want to remarry and have someone adopt him.

Everyone around me says I am stupid to want such a thing, that I should continue to make him pay. I want what is best emotionally for my son. Abby, what should I do? -- DESPERATE MOTHER IN N.C.

DEAR DESPERATE: Considering the lack of attachment the boy's father has for his child, I sympathize with what you would like to do. Consult a lawyer and discuss the advisability of terminating the legal arrangement you now have. That way, you will know if there are any financial pitfalls ahead.

DEAR ABBY: I am in the midst of planning my wedding and have been going over the guest list. I have a former brother-in-law I want to invite, but I've been told by several people that it's not proper to invite an "ex."

My former brother-in-law and I have always maintained a friendship, and I still feel close to him. He's like family. He and my sister ended their marriage on good terms, and they've stayed in contact because of their children.

Abby, what's the proper etiquette for inviting ex in-laws to a formal function? -- MINNEAPOLIS BRIDE-TO-BE

DEAR BRIDE-TO-BE: Since your former brother-in-law is on good terms with your sister and still "family" to you, there is no reason to exclude him from your wedding. By all means, follow your instincts and invite him. He deserves to be a part of your celebration.

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