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by Abigail Van Buren

Friend's Eyes Are Opened by Blind Woman's Struggle

DEAR ABBY: The letter about the man with Parkinson's disease and the waiter asking his wife, "And what will he have?" struck a nerve with me.

I have a dear friend who happens to be blind. We had the same experience while shopping for a stove. The clerk asked me, "What kind of stove does she want?" I said, "Why don't you ask her? She will be using the stove."

This lady was married 27 years, and raised four children. Both she and her husband are blind. They are a remarkable couple, to say the least.

She, too, has kept her sense of humor. She says, "I'm blind, but not hard of hearing or stupid!"

We rate restaurants by how many menus they give us. She always has her white cane with her, of course. We make a point of asking for a Braille menu; some restaurants even have them! Then she reads it to me and I check it against my menu to see if it is the same.

Abby, it is amazing how insensitive the general public can be. Having her as a friend has made me much more aware of people's disabilities. -- MARGARET WILDE, KENNEWICK, WASH.

DEAR MARGARET: Being a sidekick to someone with a disability is almost as instructive as walking a mile in her moccasins. I'm sure that others who have seen beyond the disability and found a great friend would confirm your findings. Thanks for writing. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: My heart went out to the woman whose husband has Parkinson's disease.

Yes, it is amazing how stupid some people act with handicapped people, but on the other hand, there are many understanding people out there. As a caregiver for more than 18 years, I've seen both.

Whenever we go to a new restaurant, I call ahead and explain that I will be coming in with a person who has disabilities and request that they speak to him or her, not me. People are very kind and cooperative once they understand. I have even called McDonald's, and they were wonderful.

Many times I've been thanked for taking the time to call and explain, and everything went well. I hope this suggestion will help the person who wrote to you. -- POLLY THAMARUS, COALDALE, PA.

DEAR POLLY: I'm certain it will help not only the woman who wrote to me, but many others as well. Bless you for your concern.

DEAR ABBY: A friend of mine borrowed nearly $1,000 from me almost 20 years ago. She has not mentioned it nor offered to pay me. At that time, she would have been 70-something and I was in my 40s, and still working.

I am retired now for medical reasons and could sure use the money. She is 95 and I am 62. She has the money and she's sharp as a tack. I'm sure she must have forgotten the loan. Should I mention it to her? -- RETIRED AND BROKE, KANSAS CITY, MO.

DEAR RETIRED AND BROKE: By all means remind her of the loan. You have nothing to lose and nearly $1,000 to gain.

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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