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by Abigail Van Buren

Family Nurses Hurt and Hope for Son Who Walked Away

DEAR ABBY: My son (if he is still alive) will soon be 33. We have not heard from him in nearly five years. The pain of not knowing if he is OK is nearly unbearable. Sometimes I still break down and cry.

Nothing happens in our family that cannot be forgiven. I long to see his face or to hear his voice again. I have been to a counselor; I bought a book on finding lost people; I checked with the police for his driver's license, etc. I do not know where else to turn.

Last Christmas, I shopped for a needy child. It helped, but my heart is still heavy when I think of my son.

Now, when the subject of children comes up, I just tell the truth and say, "He left five years ago and I don't know whether he's alive or dead." Abby, it's painful to think about him.

I urge those who have separated themselves from their families to get in touch with them. You need not say where you are. You may think your family stops caring after a while, but that's not so. I'll never stop hurting. And I'll never stop hoping. In fact, sign me ... HURTING AND HOPING, FORT WORTH, TEXAS

DEAR HURTING: I'm hopeful your son will read your letter, recognize himself and contact you. Companies that perform computer search services may be able to locate your son. (They are listed in the Yellow Pages under "Information Specialists," "Information Brokers" or "Searchers of Public Records.")

Meanwhile, continue helping others: Participate in a community program for children in need, volunteer to read to children or teach a children's class at the library. Most hospital nurseries need volunteers to comfort sick infants. God bless you. I wish you well.

DEAR ABBY: I was recently divorced and moved to Florida. In order to pay my mortgage, I work two jobs. This leaves me with very little time for maintenance or yard work. I was relieved when the weeds didn't overrun my yard as I had feared they would because of the climate.

Yesterday I made an unscheduled trip home in the middle of my workday. As I entered my driveway, I saw in a flash the reason why the weeds had not taken over my yard. There was my 86-year-old neighbor on his hands and knees pulling my weeds!

Abby, I barely know this nice man and his wife, and yet here he was weeding my yard. He was very embarrassed to be caught in this anonymous act of kindness.

How's that for a terrific neighbor? -- MELISSA HANSEN, FORT MYERS, FLA.

DEAR MELISSA: Congratulations -- you lucked out in the neighbor department. Does he have a brother who wants to move to California?

DEAR ABBY: A close friend of mine who now lives out of town stayed at my home the other night. She slept in the nude. When I asked her why, she told me it was healthier to sleep that way. Also, she sleeps better, and it's much more comfortable.

I have slept in the nude on a few occasions and would start doing it regularly if it is indeed healthier. Is it? -- WONDERING IN SAN ANTONIO

DEAR WONDERING: If it has been proven that sleeping in the nude is healthier, I am not aware of it. The only possible advantage: There would be no pajamas or nightgowns to launder.

Abby shares more of her favorite, easy-to-prepare recipes. To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, More Favorite Recipes, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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