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by Abigail Van Buren

Single Mom's Proud Teens Honor Her on Father's Day

DEAR ABBY: My sister, two brothers and I are in our teens. We are being raised by a single mother. We're finally beginning to realize how hard she works to keep a roof over our heads, food on the table and smiles on our faces.

Although Father's Day has passed, we hope you'll print this poem we wrote to her to show we appreciate everything she does for us. Abby, would you please? -- THE OLDEST OF FOUR IN PHOENIX

DEAR OLDEST: I'm delighted to share your original poem with other single mothers who also bear the full responsibility of their children -- and do it well. Read on:

TO FATHER ON HER SPECIAL DAY

We're writing you a poem to say

Have a Happy Father's Day.

There are things our dad should do

But instead you filled his shoes.

And did so well in his position

When he left, we didn't miss him.

No one could have ever guessed

A pretty girl could be the best

At doing stuff reserved for Dad

Without us driving you quite mad.

And we're not sure who spread the lie

About how Dad should be a guy.

'Cause even though you wear a bra

We couldn't ask for a better pa.

The calendar might clearly say

This is father's special day.

And you might think it rather queer

That you will get two days this year.

Two decades wouldn't be enough

To show how much you mean to us

We don't care if you're a girl

You're still the best dad in the world!

DEAR ABBY: I strongly agree with your response to "Inmate on a Dead End," who said he was "on a one-way trip down a road that leads nowhere." He felt hopeless about his future behind bars.

My husband is living proof that you don't have to be stuck on a dead end. When he was 18 he made some horrible mistakes. He got mixed up with drugs and the wrong crowd. He was tried on 15 counts of armed robbery and convicted on two of them. He was sent to prison (and rightfully so) for 15 years, and gave up hope for ever having a different life.

Fortunately for him, two years into his sentence common sense kicked in. He gave up drugs and started taking the classes offered to him in prison. After six years of good behavior, he was released on parole -- which is when I met him.

After getting to know this man and finding out who he once was, compared to who he has become in the past 10 years, I cannot say enough about how proud I am of him.

In the four years since his release, he has ended his parole and is completing his college degree. We have gotten married, and just purchased our first home. These are accomplishments he never believed possible when he was first locked up.

I want "Inmate" to know that one is never beyond hope. Prison may be the best thing that ever happened to him -- it was for my husband. -- PROUD WIFE IN NEW JERSEY

DEAR PROUD WIFE: Your testimonial will be welcomed by many prisoners and their families. It's never too late for a new beginning. Where there is life, there is hope.

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

To order "How to Write Letters for All Occasions," send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Letter Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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