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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I am 28 years old and pregnant with my first child. My beloved father passed away a few years ago, and my mother has since remarried. Mom keeps calling her new husband "Grandpa."

I'm having a hard time with this. Even though this man will become a part of my child's life, he is not Grandpa. Both grandfathers have passed away, and it's going to be tough enough making sure they are properly remembered.

Maybe I'm being overly protective of this "grandfather" thing, because my sweet dad can't be here to share the joy of our baby. I need advice on how to go about telling my mother that I'd prefer she didn't call her husband "Grandpa." I know this should be the least of my problems, but it's been nagging at me. -- KATIE IN VIRGINIA

DEAR KATIE: Please rethink your stance on this. Although you loved your dad and keep his memory in your heart, your mother's flesh-and-blood husband will be the only grandpa your child will ever know. If you tell your mother that you don't want her husband to be called "Grandpa," you run the risk of driving a wedge between you, her and him. Grief counseling may help you deal with your dear father's death. Accept the love your mother's husband has to offer and move on.

DEAR ABBY: In July 2001, my husband's cousin, "Jake," asked if he could move into our game room. He was going through a divorce, up to his ears in child support payments, and his funds were limited.

This living arrangement was supposed to be temporary, but now Jake is telling us he intends to continue living here for five years!

Jake does nothing to help around the house. He gives me a small sum of money each month, but that pittance isn't nearly enough to buy the food he consumes.

I want to ask Jake to move, but my husband is afraid it would damage their friendship. I say we need our own life; we've got two small children to consider. Please help, Abby. -- FED UP IN PITTSBURGH

DEAR FED UP: Somebody has to be direct with this man. If your husband can't find the strength to tell his cousin, "Enough is enough, already!" -- then you must. And please don't feel guilty about it. Jake will be a lot happier, too, once he's on his own two feet.

DEAR ABBY: I am an animal lover. When I was younger, I raised three kittens from birth. I fed them every four hours from a bottle. My husband doesn't like animals, but before we were married, he agreed I could have a pet. Well, it's been seven years, and he refuses to let me have a cat.

Abby, I love my husband dearly; however, I don't feel like a complete person without a cat. If I lived alone I'd have a houseful of them, but now I would be happy with just one. My heart breaks every time I visit a friend who has a cat or see one roaming on the street. Sometimes I even cry myself to sleep.

My husband knows I love cats. He even buys me calendars with pictures of cats, yet he denies me the one thing I love most besides him. I respect his feelings, but it hurts. What do you think I should do? -- CAT LOVER IN ILLINOIS

DEAR CAT LOVER: Unless your husband has a medical condition that prevents you from having a cat, go get yourself one. You don't need his permission. He's your partner -- not your parent.

To receive a collection of Abby's most memorable -- and most frequently requested -- poems and essays, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Keepers Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)

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