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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: My 76-year-old grandmother refuses to take care of her health. She is dangerously overweight, diabetic, has M.S. and heart disease -- among other ailments.

Grandma has more specialists than she can keep track of and self-medicates on a regular basis. Her trips to the emergency room are frequent, and she has been close to death on several occasions.

I'm not the only one worried about Grandma. Her husband and two children cry, beg and plead with her to take her health more seriously -- or to allow us to help manage her meds and medical appointments. Each time she has a close call, she promises she's "learned her lesson and will do better," but she doesn't change a thing.

I am at my wit's end! Grandma refuses to see the damage she's doing to herself. Our small family doesn't want her to die. My guilt and frustration have led to anger, which I know hurts her, because we've always been close. However, I'm at a loss about how to get through to her.

Please help, Abby. Grandma reads your column religiously. Maybe if she sees herself in print, along with your advice, it might push her in the right direction. Thanks for any help you can offer. -- AT THE END OF MY ROPE IN MICHIGAN

DEAR AT THE END: While you love your grandmother and want her with you as long as possible, it may not be possible for her to make the lifestyle changes you and her doctors would like. She's 76, and a lot of damage has already been done.

For some people, making lifestyle changes can be stressful -- even if they're positive changes. From your description of your grandmother's condition, it might be better to let her live out the time she has left without being too hard on her.

DEAR ABBY: My husband and I "had" to get married because I got pregnant. We scraped together $70 and bought a set of wedding bands, and one very small engagement ring with a little diamond dust on it. Our early days were difficult, as we had no money and a baby on the way.

Over the years, through a lot of hard work, we formed a strong, loving union. I am proud of my husband, who works two jobs six days a week so I can stay home and raise our son.

Last year, we celebrated our 10th anniversary, and my husband took me out for a rare restaurant meal. After we had eaten, he put his hand in his pocket and pulled out a small black box. He slid it across the table and said, "This time, I mean it. Will you spend the rest of your life with me?" Inside was a gorgeous ring with a beautiful stone. He then went on to tell me that the first ring was for where we started, but this ring signified where we are going. I was deeply touched.

My ring may not be the biggest or most beautiful, but it is my dearest treasure, for it signifies the love of my husband -- and for that, I am truly blessed! -- JAMIE IN NORTH CAROLINA

DEAR JAMIE: You are both blessed in many ways. Your marriage succeeded where many do not. The reason is you and your husband put all your efforts into building your relationship and making it strong.

I wish you happiness and success in your future together. You have earned both.

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