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DEAR ABBY: Years ago you printed a poem that said God sends children with special needs to special parents because he knows that they will be well cared for. (These were children with various disabilities.) I wish you would print that poem once again. I am sure it would help many parents who have a disabled child. -- FAITHFUL ILLINOIS READER

DEAR FAITHFUL READER: The poem is very moving, and I'm pleased to reprint it. It was written 50 years ago by Edna Massimilla of Hatboro, Pa., the widow of a pastor, when their daughter, a child with Down syndrome, was born. (She is now with the Lord.) When I spoke with Edna -- who is 90 -- she explained that she wrote the poem to emphasize that every creation is for a purpose, and she's still writing poems and songs especially for children with disabilities. Read on:


A meeting was held quite far from Earth

It was time again for another birth.

Said the Angels to the Lord above --

"This special child will need much love.

"Her progress may be very slow

"Accomplishment she may not show.

"And she'll require extra care

"From the folks she meets down there.

"She may not run or laugh or play

"Her thoughts may seem quite far away

"So many times she will be labeled

"'different,' 'helpless' and disabled.

"So, let's be careful where she's sent.

"We want her life to be content.

"Please, Lord, find the parents who

"Will do a special job for you.

"They will not realize right away

"The leading role they are asked to play.

"But with this child sent from above

"Comes stronger faith, and richer love.

"And soon they'll know the privilege given

"In caring for their gift from heaven.

"Their precious charge, so meek and mild

"Is heaven's very special child."

DEAR ABBY: I work as a waitress in a coffee shop. Occasionally, my parents come in for breakfast. I enjoy their coming in to eat and visit, but something has been bothering me. When my dad pays for his breakfast, he never leaves -- or even offers -- a tip!

Usually when friends or family try to tip me, I refuse it and tell them I'm just glad they came in. But often they'll leave a tip anyway.

Dad, on the other hand, takes his change and leaves.

Does he not understand that I'm taxed on all food sales and "assumed" tips made for the day? Am I being silly for thinking this way, or is he being stingy by not offering a tip? -- HURT IN HUNTINGTON BEACH

DEAR HURT: Either your dad is a skinflint, or he has taken you at your word when you said it wasn't necessary to leave a tip. Rather than writing me about it, please discuss the matter with him. And if he still doesn't leave a tip, then have another server wait on him while you "visit" with him in between waiting on other customers.

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