Dear Lois: I am a 36-year-old woman who had a short-lived, yet in many ways wonderful, affair with a 54-year-old married man. Unfortunately I also worked for him. The work relationship went sour, and I was fired. My boss verbally berated me many times before our final separation. For a year now I have been out of work and on public assistance. After some counseling and through the loving support of friends, I am actively seeking full-time professional employment.

This man's reference is important because of the type of niche work I performed, and I would like to continue my career in that field. He will not return phone calls, faxes or e-mails. Any suggestions?-Name Withheld by Request

Dear Name: Sure, I have a suggestion. Get another reference, and stop trying to find a way to relate again to a man who has indicated in every possible way that he wants you out of his life. If firing you and failing to return calls doesn't tell you that he wants nothing to do with you, then I am not sure you're in condition to go to work again. Forget this guy because, my dear, he definitely wants to forget you. And in terms of references, turn to your loving friends (when you have that, you have everything) and see who can provide the best possible character reference. Good luck, and when you find the next job, remember the problems of looking for love in all the wrong places.

Dear Lois: I think it's about time we grandparents stood up to those ungrateful ingrates, our children. As parents, most of us did the best we could. After all, no newborn arrives with an owner's manual. It's basically trial and error. My only daughter married an ex-con who's as sorry as the day is long. They have one child, and my daughter had a daughter out of wedlock before marrying this loser. I love her dearly, but I'm no longer willing to let her manipulate me for time, money or anything else - including my grandchildren. So why should I be excluded and denied access to my grandchildren? Children aren't property. Maybe we were better off when parents arranged marriages for their children.

- David

Dear David: I'm not sure if you're asking or telling - but I do agree that grandchildren cannot be held hostage in order to elicit payment and/or favors from grandparents. We do live in an age when people are ready to blame their problems on their parents, the way they were raised and "bad luck." Until someone stands up and says "This was my fault," it will be difficult to find a real rapprochement.

Dear Lois: I was naive and totally unprepared for single life after 20 years of marriage. Values, morals and attitudes have changed so much that I felt totally lost. The most important thing I learned was that many people are single for a very good reason (with the exception of death). We learn to assume that "what has been" is normal and are not prepared for "what is."

Loneliness led me into two ill-fated marriages. So tell those who find themselves alone to wait at least three years before making big moves. Tell all the single men who write that there are women out here who no longer need a man to survive.

- Joyce

Dear Joyce: You're right. But for some, it's also nice to form a more intimate relationship with a man.