Join the debate. Vote Now on the Dear Abby Poll of the week.

by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: This letter is in response to "Daughter of a Frugal Mom," who received a birthday card from her mother containing a penny. Two years ago my father passed away, leaving his wallet with six pennies inside. There are six children in our family, and the conclusion we reached was that he left one for each of us.

When she heard about it, our aunt (Dad's sister) presented us with the following: "I am like a penny. Not a bad one, a very bright one. Remember, I'll always turn up wherever you find a penny anywhere. In the years to come, you'll pick one up and say, 'There's Dad!' In time you'll have a thousand reminders of how much you're loved."

Abby, countless times since that day, we have been reminded in the most unusual and spontaneous ways that our dad is still very much a part of our lives. -- KEEPING PENNIES IN MINNESOTA

DEAR KEEPING: What a charming and comforting story. That letter generated a flurry of mail. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: My grandfather told me that when an angel misses you, he or she will toss a penny down to tell you so. I believe it.

Right after the start of the new millennium, I unexpectedly lost my life partner, Greg, from acute pancreatitis. He started feeling poorly on Jan. 2 and died a week later -- 18 days before what would have been our 20th anniversary.

Greg's mother passed on only four months earlier. As he and his sister were sorting through her belongings, they were surprised to find some pennies in a very unlikely place. His sister recalled how years before, their father -- long deceased -- would sing "Pennies From Heaven," so they took it as a sign that both of their parents were watching over them.

During the days that Greg was dying, I kept finding pennies in strange places. Once, in the parking lot, I looked down at what I thought was a shiny bracelet. It was six newly minted pennies lying in a perfect row -- one for his sister, her husband, three children and myself. I found one in the hospital corridor the day he died. It was in the center of a key chain someone had twisted into the shape of a heart.

I continue to find pennies often -- especially when I'm feeling blue. So, maybe the mother of "Daughter of a Frugal Mom" had a premonition. -- TERRY IN GILBERT, ARIZ.

DEAR TERRY: Perhaps. Please accept my sympathy for the unexpected loss of your life partner. What a bittersweet story. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: The writer who inquired about the meaning of a penny her mother sent her before she died may not have gotten it "for luck."

It seems more likely that the seemingly insignificant token was a "penny for her thoughts," rather than the good luck charm you suggested.

My mother sent me such a penny during my busiest college days. I took the hint, and ever since have made sharing my busy adult life with her a top priority.

I hope "Daughter" didn't wait until it was too late to stop being frugal with the contact her mom wanted. -- LINDA'S DAUGHTER, TULSA, OKLA.

DEAR DAUGHTER: While that "hint" is a little too subtle for me, several other people also mentioned it. I'll leave it up to my readers to decide which explanation they prefer. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: During World War II, my mother sent a penny to each of my cousins who went off to fight. She put a notch in each penny on the theory that "a bad penny always returns." One cousin signed all his war mail, "Just a Bad Penny." Three of my cousins were wounded, but all the "bad pennies" returned. -- SID GOODMAN, PARAMUS, N.J.

DEAR SID: I hope they invested them. By now they should have added up to real money!

Dear Abby is written by Pauline Phillips and daughter Jeanne Phillips.

What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS, and getting along with peers and parents is in "What Every Teen Should Know." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

4520 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64111; (816) 932-6600