DEAR ABBY: While visiting my aunt over the Thanksgiving holiday, I noticed your booklet, “Keepers,” on her coffee table. While thumbing through it, I came across a poem that made me think of my mother, who died in early September. I was missing her terribly at that moment, and the poem lifted my spirits and comforted me. I asked my aunt where she had gotten the booklet, and she told me she had ordered it from you last spring.

Is it still available, and how can I get some of them? I’d love to share that poem and some of the others in your collection with my sisters and brothers. – ISLAND GIRL FROM OAHU

DEAR ISLAND GIRL: Please accept my sympathy for the loss of your mother. I’m sure the holidays this year were especially poignant for you and your siblings, but please know that your mother would not have wanted her death to bring you sadness. She gave you life, and would want you to make the most out of every day that you are given.

Yes, my Keepers booklet is still available. It contains some of the most frequently requested poems and essays that have appeared in this column. To order it, send a business- sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby – Keepers Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)

DEAR ABBY: After 26 years of marriage, my parents seem headed for divorce. My father is the one who wants it, and it sent my manic-depressive mother into the hospital with thoughts of suicide.

Now I am in the middle. My mother doesn’t want to talk to my father, so the only information he can get is from me. He has mentioned several times the idea of my moving back home and taking care of her. (He is planning to move out in a month.)

Abby, I only recently got out on my own, and I am enjoying my independence. I love my mother and don’t want to lose her, but I am resistant to moving back into a house where I have experienced so much pain. Am I being selfish? What should I do? – FEELING GUILTY IN THE MIDWEST

DEAR FEELING GUILTY: The person who’s being selfish is your father. He’s trying to talk you into assuming the responsibility he assumed when he promised to “love, honor and cherish” your mother at the time of their marriage. If your mother were in her right mind, she would not want you to sacrifice your independence. Do not allow your father to guilt you into moving back. This is his problem. Please do not allow him to make it yours.

DEAR ABBY: I have a 15-year-old son. “Max” has just announced that he has a girlfriend. He talks to her on the phone constantly. I have met her, and she’s a very nice girl.

I had the “sex” talk with Max. I explained about AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, and how some girls who say they’re on the pill really aren’t, and that the pill does not protect either partner from STDs. I also gave my son condoms (only two) and explained that it was not permission to have sex. However, I’m afraid he might not listen and do it anyway. If that happens, I want my boy to be protected.

I have gotten conflicting opinions from friends about having given Max the condoms. Do you think I did the right thing? – DON’T WANNA BE A GRANDMA (YET) IN MANHATTAN BEACH

DEAR DON’T: I absolutely think you did the right thing, also the intelligent and pragmatic thing – and in exactly the right order.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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