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by Abigail Van Buren

Dads Who Talk With Kids Leave Rich Legacy Behind

DEAR ABBY: I have been reading your column for more than 40 years. My father's time was always tight because he had many responsibilities, but there was always lots of quality time. Instead of storybooks, he would read your column in the newspaper with me and my siblings. We loved answering the questions and then seeing if we agreed or disagreed with your answers.

Dad is gone now, and I miss him and need him. You could help to fill that void if you would reprint on Father's Day the beautiful poem, "I Had a Father Who Talked With Me," by Hilda Bigelow. It is a source of inspiration and guidance for active fathers. -- CHRIS KURTEK-MELCHIORRE, LOS ANGELES

DEAR CHRIS: That's a wonderful suggestion. The last time the poem appeared in my column was in 1993. Its author, who lives in Cocoa, Fla., described herself as "just a retired schoolteacher." I'm sure you'll agree that she's not only modest, but also an able writer. Read on:

I HAD A FATHER WHO TALKED TO ME

I had a father who talked with me --

Allowed me the right to disagree,

To question -- and always answered me,

As well he could -- and truthfully.

He talked of adventures; horrors of war;

Of life, its meaning; what love was for;

How each would always need to strive

To improve the world to keep it alive.

Stressed the duty we owe one another

To be aware each man is a brother.

Words for laughter he also spoke,

A silly song or a happy joke.

Time runs along, some say I'm wise,

That I look at life with seeing eyes.

My heart is happy, my mind is free,

I had a father who talked with me.