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by Abigail Van Buren

Good Genes, Good Sense Give Woman Long and Happy Life

DEAR ABBY: This upbeat piece was written by my aunt, Marie R. Beatty of Denver. She wrote it for her family, but I think it deserves a wider audience. I hope you can find the space to use it. -- MARCIE THOMPSON, PEPPER PIKE, OHIO

DEAR MARCIE: I MADE the space, and thank you for sending it.


"People ask me how I can be so contented living alone. I am almost 84. First, I never really feel alone. There's so much life around me, I don't even eat alone. I have a tiny television set on my breakfast table, and I still live in the same house I lived in when my husband was alive.

"I find life very interesting. I can hardly wait to read my daily newspaper and the magazines I get. I want to live forever -- just to see what will happen!

"A bridge game now and then helps to keep my mind alert. So does keeping a diary and a scrapbook.

"I have a new project, a la Grandma Moses. I'm writing stories. It's fun, whether they're published or not.

"I think a person's attitude has more to do with staying young than genes. Of course, it's important to eat sensibly. (Even George Burns drinks prune juice!) And a little daily exercise is also necessary. I have an arthritic knee, so I can't take long walks. Instead, I exercise in bed just before I get up in the morning. First, I thank God that I'm alive, then I concentrate on the GOOD things that will happen that day. Is there a better way to start the day?

"I think older people should do their share of entertaining -- even if it's only homemade cookies and tea.

"Sometimes the rain gets in my way; then I remind myself that others may need it, so I put on my red raincoat and go out.

"Family is important. And how wonderful to have a grandchild call you a 'good sport.'

"It doesn't bother me if I forget something. Children are the best forgetters in the world.

"I consider getting older a triumph, but I want to keep on learning. There is so much to learn!

"At night I say, 'Thank you, God, for everything. If I didn't accept all the good things I was offered, it wasn't your fault; they were there. I'll be around tomorrow.' Then I fall asleep. -- MARIE BEATTY

"P.S. Perhaps I should have waited until I was 90 to write this, but I just couldn't wait to express myself. I expect to be around for a while; my mother lived to be 96."

DEAR ABBY: I hope you won't think that this is a dumb question. My mother serves fish all the time and tells us that fish is brain food. I told her that it isn't true -- it's only a myth. I have asked everyone in our family and they say that Mother is right, but I still think she's wrong. Tell me, Abby, is eating a lot of fish going to make a person smarter? -- A KID IN ROSWELL, GA.

DEAR KID: First of all, there are no "dumb" questions -- only people who remain ignorant because they haven't the courage to ask questions.

It is not true that fish is "brain food." According to The Dictionary of Misinformation by Tom Burnam: "Perhaps the myth that fish is 'good for the brain' arose from the fact that the nerve tissue which forms a part of the brain is rich in phosphorus, and fish do provide phosphorus-containing compounds. But so do meat, poultry, eggs and milk."

I know of no food that will make people smarter. Fatter, yes. Smarter, no.

This one's for everybody, from teens to seniors! To purchase Abby's new booklet, "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It," send a long, business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054. (Postage is included.)

4900 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64112; (816) 932-6600