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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.

DEAR ABBY: About the husband who phoned his wife's boss to say she would not be in that day due to a death in the family: When asked who died, he stammered, and it was obvious he didn't know. I can beat that.

The New York City Department of Corrections gives its officers three days of paid "bereavement" time. Since no one checks up, and the policy is so generous, relatives drop like flies. (Always during the holidays or when beautiful weather is forecast.)

One guy I work with has had the worst luck imaginable. This spring his mother died for the fourth time in seven years. I'm not kidding. -- C.O. IN STATEN ISLAND, N.Y.

DEAR C.O.: My condolences to the officer who lost his mother -- again. But someone should warn this guy that by the time her ninth life is over, the personnel department may have learned to add. The Department of Corrections should be using only the most efficient time-management techniques, at least for those uniformed men and women on the right side of the bars.

For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more attractive person, order "How to Be Popular." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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