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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: The letter about a loved one's ashes touched me personally. Please accept one more letter on the subject.

Our 39-year-old son died a few years ago. Most of his ashes are buried in a veterans cemetery near his father.

My daughter wanted some of his ashes, and I have a little container of them on my shelf, along with a ceramic guardian angel.

We returned to our home state and, like the other mom, I scattered a few of his ashes on his beloved grandmother's grave. Then we went to the river where he loved to fish as a youngster, and I dropped some of the ashes along the river's edge. Abby, I'll never forget how they sparkled like diamonds as they settled to the bottom. We were amazed at the sight.

I was a bit conflicted about dividing the ashes, but after reading your columns and seeing those "diamonds" from my son, I knew it was OK. Thanks for letting me express my thoughts. -- HIS MOM IN LAS VEGAS

DEAR MOM: You're welcome. I have received some terrific letters on the subject. If other grieving families can gain comfort from your letter, it was worth the space in my column. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: Driving was my father's greatest joy and source of pride. He founded, chaired and belonged to several local sports car clubs.

His wish upon his death was to donate every usable organ, including his brain, to Parkinson's disease research, then to be cremated.

His sister (my aunt) asked to bury his ashes on their parents' gravesite. Although I knew this would not be his preference, I agreed in order to bring her some comfort. But first, I spread a few of his ashes near every exotic and sports car dealership -- Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz, Alfa-Romeo, etc. -- in our area. I also keep a small vial of his ashes in my glove compartment. I'm nowhere near the driver he was, but at least he's still spending a fair amount of time on the road. -- HUB WHEELMAN'S DAUGHTER

DEAR DAUGHTER: From your description of your father, he was also a driving force while he was alive. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: When my beloved wife died at a young age, I couldn't bring myself to have her placed in a box and dropped in a hole. We were truly free spirits. Our love developed while sky-diving. We were married in a hot-air balloon. She went on to receive her own pilot's license to fly balloons, and then broke a world's record.

Less than a year later, she died -- not from parachuting or ballooning, but from cancer.

I had her cremated and watched the process, for it was best for closure. Her ashes were divided in two -- one half released in front of our home off Marina Del Rey. The other half was released from her balloon in the high desert where she broke the record. Whenever I see the desert or the ocean, I see her, and she is smiling. -- GEORGE E., CARMEL BY THE SEA

DEAR GEORGE E.: I'm sure she's smiling because you did exactly what she wanted. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: When I read the letter about the widower who wore his wife's ashes in a vial around his neck while making love to his subsequent ladyfriend, my response was, "I wish I could be married to a man that devoted to me."

My female co-worker's response: "At that age, she should be glad she's getting sex. She should IGNORE the vial!" -- DEVOTED READER, ALTOONA, PA.

DEAR DEVOTED: Funn-ee! How little your co-worker knows about mature women -- I wonder if she'll still feel that way when she's a little older.

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

For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more attractive person, order "How to Be Popular." Send a business-size, 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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