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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I have read your column daily for many years and greatly enjoy your letters on random acts of kindness. Yesterday I read the letter about Darlene Godsey's husband, who came home a quadriplegic after an overdose of anesthesia during open-heart surgery, and how her friends rallied together to repair the things she had formerly relied on her husband to do.

It reminded me of something my quadriplegic friend Bernie did for me several years ago during a very lonely and difficult time in my life. I wrote occasional verse and had been sharing my poems with him over a bulletin board service via our personal computers. Through time we became good friends.

Unbeknown to me, he took the following verse of mine, had it printed in "Queen's English" and beautifully framed, and presented it to me as a gift, for no particular reason. That was a turning point in my life and inspired me to continue my writing and share it with others.

I have just recently completed my first poetry and verse manuscript and am hopeful it may be published someday. Bernie's gift, titled "Lessons You Learned," now has its own special place on my wall and is a daily reminder of the "random acts of kindness" that inspired me originally to write it.

I am sharing it with you in the hope that it will help people along life's journey either to recognize their own gifts or help someone else along their way. If you print it, I thank you. If you cannot, I understand you cannot print every letter you receive. I will continue to faithfully read your column because you so often touch so many hearts, and have often touched mine. -- MARLENE GERBA, MILWAUKIE, ORE. DEAR MARLENE AND DEAR READERS: Unfortunately, I am unable to publish all of the letters or the lovely poems I receive. However, this one moved me so deeply that I am compelled to share it. Read on:

LESSONS YOU LEARNED by Marlene Gerba

For every petal you pluck from a daisy,

You're granted one measure of love.

For every rainbow you find with two ends,

I wish you two stars from above.

For every tear you brush from a cheek,

I promise you kindness will follow.

Wherever you walk, under rainbows or stars,

Over daisies, or down lonely hollow.

For every child you play with and talk to,

I grant you one heart full of laughter.

For every smile you place on a face,

I promise you peace ever after.

If you think "I" am giving you priceless gifts,

Look close at yourself and your deeds.

The gifts you earned were the lessons you learned

While answering other folks' needs.

CONFIDENTIAL TO 'STILL TRYING TO CATCH THE BRASS RING IN HAWAII': In the words of Arnold Palmer, world champion golfer, "The road to success is always under construction."

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