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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I feel the need to respond to "Curious," regarding who should write thank-you notes. When my son and his wife were married, they decided that it would be a joint effort, with each responding to the gifts from their own family and friends, and working together on those for mutual friends. I had several of my friends and family members compliment me on what wonderful thank-you notes they received -- and they were very impressed that he had written them.

When he was young, I impressed upon him the fact that household responsibilities are for all who live in the home, not designated to certain genders. I came from a home with all sisters, and we helped with all duties. His father came from a home with all brothers, and I know he would never write a thank-you note because this would have never been expected in his family. I am proud and pleased that my son assumes and shares all responsibilities with his spouse. The husband of "Curious" needs to get a clue! -- PROUD MOTHER IN OGDEN, UTAH

DEAR PROUD MOTHER: Orchids to you. You have done your job well, and you deserve to be proud. Whether it's conscious or unconscious, mothers have tremendous influence on the attitudes they impart to their sons -- and you seem to have imparted a sense of gender neutrality to yours.

DEAR ABBY: Last summer, my Cadillac "died" amidst busy traffic in a rundown area of town. I had to walk quite a ways before finding a telephone to summon help. When I returned to the car, I "directed" traffic around it for at least 45 minutes.

During that time, 17 people stopped and offered to push my vehicle to the curb or phone for assistance. I thanked them all, but said help was on the way. One lady even offered to let me sit in her air-conditioned car to wait, as it was a hot day. When I refused with thanks, she handed me a cold can of pop!

Finally a nice man parked on a side street, walked back and said he wanted to help me, even though I said help was coming. He replied, "If my mother were in trouble, I would want someone to help her!" Then he got my car started and insisted on following me all the way to the Cadillac agency (at least 10 blocks). These wonderful good Samaritans all stopped during their busy day to help a stranger!

I am a 67-year-old Caucasian woman, Abby, and 16 of those 17 people who stopped were black. When my local paper chose not to print this, I hoped that you would. It is a true testament of compassion, when all we seem to read about is the bad side of life. -- ANN ALDRICH, COLUMBUS, OHIO

DEAR ANN: Thank you for pointing out that there are caring, concerned people in every neighborhood. The level of affluence has nothing to do with it, and neither does the skin color of the residents.

CONFIDENTIAL TO "LIVING LIFE TO THE FULLEST": "Live all you can; it's a mistake not to. It doesn't so much matter what you do in particular so long as you have your life." (Henry James, 1843-1916)

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