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by Abigail Van Buren

Loving Neighbors Stand in for Grandparents Far Away

DEAR ABBY: "Nobody's Grandma" (June 12) is sad about her children's desire to remain childless. I would encourage her to seek out a family in her neighborhood, church or other shared connections who live far from family or have no grandparents.

I lived far from both sets of grandparents when I was young. An older couple who lived next door "adopted" us. They invited my siblings and me over to bake cookies and play cards, and filled the grandparent void in our young lives. In turn, we looked out for them and included them in our family events.

They were dear, special people to whom I remain indebted for their love and kindness. My children now play with the handcrafted toys from "Grandpa's" workshop, and I still make "Grandma's" wonderful angel food cake. -- AN ADOPTED GRANDCHILD IN WAYNESVILLE, OHIO

DEAR GRANDCHILD: Your experience with your adopted grandparents exemplifies my advice to "Nobody's Grandma." While many of my readers agreed with me, a few offered a different perspective. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: The offspring of "Nobody's Grandma" should be congratulated on their decision. Worldwide food shortages, poverty, pollution, global warming and religious bigotry against birth control have resulted in the greatest crisis facing the world today -- overpopulation. -- AN 83-YEAR-OLD "OPA"

DEAR ABBY: Have you heard of the Foster Grandparent Program? It's a federal program for people 60 years old and over. We work with children who need a little extra help in schools or in other areas where needed. The children I "foster" say I'm more like a grandma to them than some of their own grandmothers. I love and nurture them like my own -- and I have 26 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren. -- GRANDMA ANITA

DEAR ABBY: I sympathize with "Nobody's Grandma." I will probably never have grandchildren either because my only child has developmental disabilities. Sometimes I feel cheated, but I have learned it is better to appreciate what you have and to accept what you can't change. -- C.T. IN HAWAII

DEAR ABBY: Although my wife and I are blessed with nine biological grandkids, with No. 10 on the way, about a dozen or more children call us "Grandma" and "Grandpa." While our kids were growing up, we tended to informally collect other kids from less-than-happy homes who called us Mom and Dad. These young folks grew up and had children of their own who consider us their grandparents.

Look around your community. There are many children who desperately need grandparents to love and be loved by. Your life, as well as theirs, will be greatly enriched. -- EVERYBODY'S GRANDPA

DEAR ABBY: When I was born, "Aunt Sarah," a semi-retired colleague of Mom's, offered to baby-sit once a week to give my mom a chance to run errands. Aunt Sarah became an adopted grandmother to my brothers and me. She would play games with us, take us to fast-food restaurants, and to a playground afterward to burn off our burgers and fries. She always made sure we were well-dressed and even gave us money for college.

Aunt Sarah passed away a few months ago, but I'm fortunate to have had her in my life for 26 years. I hope "Nobody's Grandma" will take your suggestion to heart. She and her husband could have a great impact on the lives of some very lucky children. -- SARAH'S GRANDDAUGHTER

CONFIDENTIAL TO MY MUSLIM READERS: Ramadan is beginning -- may your fast be an easy one!

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