DEAR ABBY: Since my mother's death eight years ago, I have kept artificial flowers on her grave, replacing them as they become tattered or faded. Recently my oldest sister, "Eva," moved back to this area and says she intends to plant a yellow rose bush on Mom's grave, because yellow roses were her favorite flower.
I don't think live roses are appropriate on a grave, so I asked the cemetery attendant about it. He told me no one had ever made such a request, but he was unaware of any policy about planting flowers on graves. He's a friend of the family, so I'm sure he won't tell Eva that she can't plant a rose bush. He did comment that the bush would have to be kept pruned so that it wouldn't interfere with mowing.
Abby, would I be out of line to ask my sister not to follow through on her plan? The grave is near the center of our family plot, and I think the bush would be out of place. And who would be responsible for the care of the roses? I have taken pride in how Mother's grave has looked all these years, but I don't want to take care of a live plant. Couldn't Eva just plant a rose bush in her own yard and dedicate it to Mom?
Don't advise me to take a family vote. One brother agrees with Eva; the other agrees with me. What is your opinion of a rose bush on a grave? -- NOT ROSY IN KANSAS
DEAR NOT ROSY: As long as the cemetery has no policy about live plants on graves and your sister agrees to be responsible for the upkeep, I see no reason why a yellow rose bush wouldn't be lovely on your mother's grave.
Should your sister not live up to the agreement to tend the roses, you could replace the bush with the artificial flowers you prefer.
Ask yourself: "What would Mama say about this?" and be prepared to compromise.
DEAR ABBY: As part of her speech last spring at our graduation, the valedictorian read a wonderful poem. She said it was from a booklet of yours. It was called "The Guy in the Mirror," or something like that. Hearing it made me realize how important it is to live in a way that I can be proud of myself and command the respect of others.
From the reaction of the students around me, it apparently impressed them, too.
I would love to get a copy of your booklet for myself, and possibly some for my cousins who are also going away to college in a few weeks. How do I get them? -- CATHY IN CINCINNATI
DEAR CATHY: I'm pleased the poem impressed you and your classmates. It carries an important message. The name of the poem is "The Man in the Glass," and the author is Dale Wimbrow. It is found in my "Keepers" booklet, which contains a number of inspirational pieces.
To purchase "Keepers," send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds) for each booklet to: Dear Abby -- Keepers, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)
Dear Abby is written by Pauline Phillips and daughter Jeanne Phillips.
4520 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64111; (816) 932-6600