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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I recently lost my mom. It was very sudden. We were extremely close, and she was the most wonderful grandmother to my children. My mother-in-law and my husband have a strained relationship that I have struggled to navigate for years. I have always reached out to her and made sure she sees the grandchildren.

I have been a little "lost" since my mom's death, and so have my children. I had hoped my MIL would step up and step in, but it just didn't happen. I am disappointed and sad for my children, and the situation seems to be getting worse. When I try to talk to my husband about it, his reply is, "I'm not close to my mom like you were with yours."

What should I do? Do I keep reaching out and being angry on the inside, or speak up and say something? I should add that my husband and his mom are now at the point where they barely talk on the phone. I hate to be negative, but I feel very done with the childish behavior! My children need a grandma. -- ANNOYED UP NORTH

DEAR ANNOYED: Please accept my sympathy for the loss of your sweet mother. That you and your children feel her absence so acutely is a testament to how special she was.

Unfortunately, you married someone who doesn't have the kind of relationship you were lucky enough to have with your mom. All moms and grandmothers are not created equal. Your MIL appears to be incapable of stepping up to the plate.

Rather than continue reaching out to her with expectations, you might be less angry and frustrated if you do it less often without cutting her completely off. Instead, look around and consider "adopting" a mentor for yourself who can also become a grandmother figure for your children. This isn't unheard of. A government-sponsored program, Foster Grandparents, provides a way for volunteers 55 and over to stay active by serving children and youth in their communities. To find out more, go to nationalservice.gov and click on "Senior Corps." Love is a gift that keeps on giving, and it works both ways.

Read more in: Family & Parenting

DEAR ABBY: A while ago, my wife and I were leaving the grocery store. I was wearing my baseball cap with a U.S. Navy logo embroidered on it. As we passed the table where the Brownies were selling Girl Scout cookies, I politely told them "not today" and proceeded to cross to the parking lot. The woman who was supervising the girls approached and asked if she could talk to me. When I turned around, she said, "We would like to donate a box of cookies to you and your wife in honor of your service to our country." Abby, I was so touched. I thought my heart would burst when one of the little scouts asked if I would take a picture with her.

I share this so others will know what it means for a veteran to be acknowledged by someone saying, "Thank you for your service." -- NAVY VETERAN IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR VETERAN: What a sweet letter. Not only was the acknowledgement gratifying, but I'm sure those cookies were delicious. Although not every veteran feels the same way about being thanked as you do, I'm sure the majority do. Thank you for pointing it out to my readers.

Read more in: Holidays & Celebrations | Etiquette & Ethics

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