DEAR ABBY: I read a letter in your column that described how, for their parents' anniversary, the children asked friends and family to write letters recalling a special memory they had shared with the couple. The children put all of the letters into an album and presented it to the parents on their anniversary. I thought it was a great idea, but it wasn't until late last summer that I decided to take that advice myself.
My father's 70th birthday was approaching. Instead of requesting that the letters be sent to me, I asked everyone to send the letters directly to Dad during the week of his birthday. I intended to pay him a visit on the afternoon of his special day and collect them in a folder for him.
My father called me every day that week with such joy and excitement in his voice. He was getting about eight letters a day from people he hadn't heard from in years. All were filled with wonderful memories. I didn't tell him I sent the requests out, but someone who wrote him did. Dad thanked me and said it was the best gift he could have received. I promised to help him answer every letter.
Well, my father died on the afternoon of his 70th birthday of a heart attack. I am so grateful that I acted upon something I read in your column. I kept my promise and answered every letter.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for continuing to write your column. I'm 41 years old and have been a faithful reader since I was a teen-ager. I speak from experience when I say that although some people may read your column only for enjoyment, someday they'll need to use some of your sage advice. -- DEB LOGUE, EAST PETERSBURG, PA.
DEAR DEB: Please accept my sympathy on the loss of your beloved father. I'm gratified that an item you read in my column proved to be so meaningful. I have received many letters from readers who wanted me to know the pleasure that their loved ones experienced upon receiving a memory book. They make priceless, one-of-a-kind mementos.
DEAR ABBY: You said in your column that you once heard an anthropologist say that "two things distinguish men from apes: our opposable thumb and our ability to invent tools."
Whoever that anthropologist was, he or she must have been years out of date. All primates have opposable thumbs, from the lemurs to the apes (in fact, many apes have FOUR opposable thumbs -- one on each hand and one on each foot). The ability to invent tools was once thought to be a uniquely human characteristic, until 1960. At that time, Jane Goodall observed wild chimpanzees making "tools" out of branches by stripping the leaves and breaking them to a proper size. These tools are made to "fish" for termites in the narrow tunnels of termite mounds, so they must be the proper thickness and free of leaves.
When she telegraphed this discovery to her sponsor, the famous anthropologist, Dr. Louis Leakey, he sent back the reply, "We must now redefine tools, redefine man, or accept chimpanzees as human." Nobody would deny that we are different from chimpanzees and other apes, but the more we learn about them, the more we find that in many respects, we are not as different as perhaps we would like to think. -- TIM SUSMAN, STAFF SCIENTIST, THE JANE GOODALL INSTITUTE'S CENTER FOR PRIMATE STUDIES, ST. PAUL, MINN.
DEAR MR. SUSMAN: Thank you for enlightening me. When Miss Goodall discovered that chimpanzees are closer to humans than originally thought, she also made a monkey out of me.
Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)
4520 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64111; (816) 932-6600