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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: Our stepfather is still alive, but my family and I are trying to decide where to bury him when the time comes. When our mother died six years ago, we purchased two burial plots so they could be laid to rest next to each other. We even had a headstone engraved with both their names.

A few months ago, we discovered that our stepfather sexually abused several of the children and grandchildren when they were young. We also learned he never paid my mother's funeral expenses.

Abby, we are torn between burying him with our mother, or removing the present headstone and replacing it with a single stone with just her name on it. Most of us want him to be buried far away from her. We can't help feeling he married our mother to get to the children. Please advise us on the right thing to do. -- ANGRY DAUGHTER IN KANSAS

DEAR ANGRY DAUGHTER: Your feelings are understandable and justified. However, under the circumstances, I cannot understand why you feel any responsibility for disposing of your stepfather's body "when the time comes." He's not a blood relative.

I have another suggestion: If you are his legal next of kin, donate his body to science. That way in death he can do something positive for society.

DEAR ABBY: I am in my early 30s, and this summer I'm to be married for the first time. My parents have been divorced for many years and are splitting the cost of the wedding. My father has contributed $10,000. The cost is expected to be higher. My mother remarried 15 years ago, and she and my stepfather can afford to pay the balance.

The problem is I intensely dislike my father's girlfriend, "Tess." They have been together 10 years. I have done everything I can think of to get him to leave her.

Tess attends all the family holiday parties. I won't go if I know she will be there -- therefore, MY holidays are ruined! I did succeed once in getting her "uninvited," but since then nobody will listen to me. Tess will have nothing to do with me now. In fact, she looks right through me as though I am invisible.

Abby, I do not want Tess to attend my wedding and ruin my big day. I have demanded that my father not bring her, but he will not hear of it. He says since he is paying $10,000, he will invite whomever he wants. What can I do? How can I make this woman stay away? -- SUMMER BRIDE ON A BUMMER

DEAR SUMMER BRIDE: You can't. Unless you welcome her warmly, you may experience a $10,000 shortfall. So sweeten up, grow up and accept reality. Your wedding can be the beginning of many new relationships.

DEAR ABBY: The letter from "Big Sister Sue," whose sister is marrying the ex-husband of another sister, reminded me of a similar situation in my family.

During a family gathering, I was catching up with two of my elderly female cousins whom I hadn't seen since my childhood. The older of the two was in her 70s. She remarked that she had been married multiple times and was now married to her younger sister's ex-husband.

I asked if the marriage had caused any hard feelings, and I still have to chuckle at her answer: "No hard feelings -- he's a good man, so we decided to recycle him!" -- MARY HEDENSKOG, NORWOOD, N.C.

DEAR MARY: Your cousin was a practical woman. "Waste not, want not."

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