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by Abigail Van Buren

Family Members Run for Cover From Grandma's Talk Marathons

DEAR ABBY: No one in my family will tell my grandmother the reason they don't call her is she talks too much. None of us is retired like she is, and our evenings are chaotic enough without a two-hour conversation with her. Relatives ask me to relay messages on their behalf so they won't have to call her. She's always crying and telling me I'm the only one who is "good to her."

I'd feel guilty if I had to tell Grandma the truth -- but I, as well as the rest of the family, have had enough of her long, guilt-inducing talks and trips down memory lane from 1940. How can I get the point across without devastating her sensitive nature? -- CAPTIVE AUDIENCE IN FLORIDA

DEAR CAPTIVE AUDIENCE: The next time your grandmother tells you you're the only one who is good to her, you need to tell her she'd have better luck with the other relatives if she limited the length of her phone calls to them. Encourage her to find other interests so she isn't as lonely and dependent as she appears to be. To do so isn't cruel; you'll be doing her a favor because what's driving people away is her neediness.

I don't know what your grandmother retired from, but she should have retired TO something more than her telephone. Unless she lives in the wilderness, she should be encouraged to get out and volunteer.