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by Abigail Van Buren

Family's Recorded History Is Now a Matter of Memory

DEAR ABBY: When our first grandchild was born, my son, "Vic," and his wife bought the first video camera in the family. I often asked them to bring it to family get-togethers, and to help out, I purchased dozens of long-running, high-quality tapes.

We didn't buy a lot of toys for the kids. We made memories instead -- a trip to the circus, renting out the roller rink for the entire family, and holding "sports championships" in our yard. All of the fun was captured on tape. Our family grew, babies became teenagers, and we had a growing pile of tapes.

Two years ago, my husband died unexpectedly. I felt as though my life had been torn to shreds. I was slow getting over the shock.

Recently I finally felt strong enough to watch the tapes again. ("Grandpa" was always in the middle of the action.) When I asked Vic to bring them over, his response was, "Mom, we don't have those videos anymore. We taped Junior's softball games over them." I said, "How could you?!" He replied, "Get over it, Mom! It's all in the past."

I was so angry, I walked out. I haven't called them since, and they haven't contacted me. I am so hurt. How could anyone have so little feeling? -- RE-RECORDED IN MIAMI

DEAR RE-RECORDED: Your son's response was brutal. He owes you an apology for his rudeness and insensitivity, but he's right about one thing -- the tapes are gone. He was put on the defensive, and that's why he tried to dismiss your feelings. Obviously, he thought the family would go on forever just as it was. That's why he didn't think it was important to preserve the videotaped family album. Of course, by sacrificing the past for the present, he ultimately cheated his own family and any siblings of his generation who might be interested in sharing the family history.

Fortunately, you have many happy memories in your heart of your happy marriage and the experience of raising your family. And no one can ever take those away from you.