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by Abigail Van Buren

Daughter Who Quit Smoking Gave Dad Best Possible Gift

DEAR ABBY: Last year, before Father's Day, you suggested that children send a letter to their fathers telling them how much they loved them rather than the traditional Father's Day card.

I wrote my dad a letter and told him how much I admired him knowing that every morning he had to go to work to support a wife and eight children. We never went without a meal, we had the basic necessities, and we were always warm in the winter. And we had the love of two parents.

I remember in the seventh grade I sometimes spent the lunch money Dad gave me for candy and cigarettes instead of lunch. At the end of that year, Dad had to pay the school $16 for lunches I had charged. He never questioned the bill -- he just paid it.

In my Father's Day letter to him, I explained why he was sent that bill and enclosed a check for $16. He read the letter, cashed the check, and never mentioned the incident.

Mom later told me that she didn't know what I had written in that letter, but whatever it was brought tears to Dad's eyes, and several times since, she saw him in his room rereading that letter.

Thank you very much for the idea. It certainly has brought peace of mind to me, and finally I have been honest with my dad. -- MARY FUGATE, WEST COLUMBIA, S.C.

DEAR MARY: Words of gratitude are wonderful to hear, but when they are expressed in writing, they can be cherished indefinitely. Trust me, I know.