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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I have a pet peeve I'd like to educate people about. As an amateur gardener, I take great pride in my garden. However, when friends and relatives come over to visit, they sometimes start "pulling weeds." Please understand, my garden is a NATURAL garden. Therefore, what may appear as "weeds" to others are my "flowers."

Because of a stroke I suffered, I must use a cane. I know these folks think they're helping me by pulling weeds, but in reality they're destroying all my hard work. What can I say to them, Abby? -- WATCHING MY GARDEN GROW IN TULSA

DEAR WATCHING: How about "Stop!" And since your "helpful" friends and relatives are ignorant about ecological gardens, post small signs in your yard identifying the various kinds of plants on display. That way, it will be obvious, even to the well-meaning but unenlightened, that they are not "weeds."

DEAR ABBY: I am a 20-year-old single mother who once enjoyed a beautiful life. Everything changed this past year when my husband -- the father of my then-unborn child -- died suddenly.

After his death, I suffered severe emotional pain and did not wish to go on living. However, I knew I must -- for the sake of our baby.

Here's where it gets complicated: I recently met a young man and have fallen in love. Abby, please understand that I still love my late husband with all my heart. I cry for him every day and miss him terribly. I even talk to him late at night while I'm holding our child. But I can't help loving the new man in my life, too. The love and understanding he offers me is wonderful. Please help me know what I should do. -- TORN IN DALLAS

P.S. Also, what should I do when it is time to teach my child what to call the new love of Mommy's life?

DEAR TORN: Please accept my deepest sympathy for the loss of your husband. Let me offer a word of caution. You suffered a great loss when your husband died, and he died at a time when you were particularly vulnerable.

Since you still "cry for him every day and talk to him every night," do not rush into another relationship until you have gotten grief counseling (your doctor or clergyperson can refer you). What your child should call your new love will evolve naturally.

DEAR ABBY: I am a 14-year-old girl. When I was only 18 months old, I lost my mom. She was killed in a motorcycle accident. My father isn't around, so I live with my grandparents. They don't want me to see my dad, but I wouldn't mind seeing him once in a while.

Grandma and Grandpa say my dad's a bad guy -- but he's still my dad and I love him.

Do you have any suggestions about what I should do, Abby? Should I wait until I'm older to understand this better, or what? -- NEEDING GUIDANCE IN INDIANA

DEAR NEEDING: At 14, you are old enough to learn the truth about your father. If you cannot make your grandparents understand that, perhaps another adult could intercede on your behalf.

Dad may not turn out to be the person you would hope -- but you're not a little girl anymore, and you have the right to find out if he's worthy of your love.

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 $5 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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