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ECHOING IN NEIGHBOR'S HEAD

Dear Abby: My problem is my neighbor's home basketball court. The parents are oblivious to how far the noise travels. My ears are constantly assaulted by the thump, thump and screaming of children that goes along with the game. It's impossible on most days and evenings to sit on my porch and read a book, or in my living room without closing the windows.

Most people hate to complain to the offending neighbors because they're nice people, even though they are clueless. Zoning board members: How about outlawing basketball hoops in neighborhoods where there's less than 500 feet between houses? Give us a break.

-- Fractured eardrum in the Sunbelt

Dear Fractured: Whether or not the sound of children playing is an annoying racket depends on one's perspective. If you are a parent, the sound is music to the ears -- and when those days are over, the happy sound will be missed.

Sometimes being a good neighbor involves striking a compromise. Since you're being driven out of your gourd, speak to the parents of these budding basketball stars and negotiate some time limits for the games.

Gone but not forgotten

Dear Abby: A treasured friend of my mother's -- a lady who knew me from birth (I am now 56) -- passed away recently. I was brought up to call her "Auntie." She was closer to me than some of my blood relatives. My children and I adored her. We called her long-distance, sent her flowers on special occasions, and saw her every time she came to town -- which was two to four times a year.

Finally it was necessary for her to go to a nursing home. The last time we went to visit her, the nurses said, "Oh, didn't you know? She passed away a month ago!" Her only son lives far away. He never bothered to call and notify us. We had to find out the hard way.

Abby, our number was in her current phone and address book. We were never given the opportunity to mourn. Her son didn't think enough of us to even pick up the phone. He knew we loved his mother and that we included her in all our family gatherings. I'm sad and angry at his lack of compassion.

Auntie had four husbands die on her. We loved them all and called them "Uncle," and planned all the funerals with Auntie's son in full agreement. So what could have been the problem?

Abby, won't you please remind your readers again to call dear friends about a death in the family? This is inexcusable. We are ... Mourning in Tacoma, Wash.

Dear Mourning: Your problem is more common than you think. Often when there's a death in the family, a close friend will assume the sad task of phoning the people in the deceased's address book to notify them. Obviously, this was not done on the occasion of Auntie's death -- and your letter poignantly illustrates the pain that can be caused by the unfortunate oversight.

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