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by Abigail Van Buren

Devoted Son Finds a Little Kindness Goes a Long Way

DEAR ABBY: My father died when I was 10. My world spun out of control for a few years because I had lost my hero -- the man I most admired. Since I wanted to grow up to be like my dad, I was always looking for someone like him to be my friend. Fortunately, I was blessed with several who served as mentors and taught me what my dad would have had he lived.

Today, I am 51, and while I mentor others, I am still very close to two mentors of my own. May I pass on some advice from one who transformed the quality of my life and my mother's too:

I have the best mom in the world. She's tough as a water buffalo, opinionated, thinks I could have been president and still nags me to eat more vegetables.

Three years ago, my mentor suggested I call my mother every day just to hear her voice, to let her hear mine, to hear about her day -- and tell her that I love her.

I eat one meal a week with Mom, usually dinner, but sometimes lunch or breakfast. This past week, I didn't get a chance to share a meal with her, and since she was leaving town Friday morning with an elderly friend, I drove over to see her Thursday night. While there, she asked me to review her map from AAA, and we spent about 20 minutes looking it over. Before I left, Mom told me how relieved she was that we had looked over the route and that I knew where she was going.

The last time I was there, I changed two batteries in her garage door opener, and the time before, I used the blower to clean out her garage and she served me a delicious pot roast.

Today I have a priceless relationship with my mom, thanks to the advice of my mentor. I'm as attentive to her as my father would be if he were alive -- I am indeed my father's son.

Diana Ross was right. You can reach out and touch someone, and in so doing, change their world -- and yours too. -- A DEVOTED SON, PHOENIX

DEAR DEVOTED SON: Those who spread joy invariably reap a good measure for themselves.