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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: A while back you asked your readers to name their heroes. May I contribute?

My heroes are nameless, often faceless and in most cases unsung. They will never have 15 minutes of fame. Their deeds won't be recorded in history books, but their kindness inspires and their good deeds will forever affect the lives of others -- though some may not realize it.

My heroes are parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, foster parents, teachers, playground monitors and crossing guards who teach others to have values and common sense, and to be ethical in their treatment of others.

My heroes are young girls who spend a year grooming and conditioning their hair, then cut it off so it may be given to a child who has none; those who pick up trash along the highways and byways to keep America clean; police officers who stop you because you've done something stupid, then let you go because they know you made an honest mistake and you'll be sure not to do it again.

My heroes are the guys on the garbage truck who take a few extra seconds to pick up the items that didn't make it into the truck and make sure your receptacle is upright and undamaged before moving on to the next house; grownups who hold children's hands in parking lots to keep them safe; teachers who stay after school to help a student struggling with homework, a troubled home life or homelessness.

My heroes are strangers on streets and in buildings who take a moment to ask if they can help you because of the uncertain expression on your face; every shelter worker who has ever cried when a homeless or abused creature was euthanized; my dear father, whose strong hands, often bruised and bloodied, made a living for his family, who gently held his frightened little girl and who often shared more than he could afford with others less fortunate than he. These are my heroes. -- JULIE IN SCOTT CITY, MO.

DEAR JULIE: Thank you for taking the time to describe your many heroes. On this day of all days, let us all give thanks for those individuals who have made -- and continue to make -- a positive difference in our lives.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! -- Love, ABBY

DEAR ABBY: My boyfriend, "Louis," is retired. I'm in school studying law, which means heavy reading assignments, tons of projects and a tremendous amount of homework. It's like a full-time job.

At night when I should be studying, Louis gets upset if I don't knock off by 9 or 9:30. He also gets upset if I start before 9 in the morning. He has never asked me what I need from him to help me accomplish what I have to do. He also never asks what I'm doing in my classes without turning around and accusing me of doing the professor's job. This pattern is repeated several times a week, his blowing up because I don't spend more time with him and less on my studies.

Abby, this man insists he has never been so much in love, and that's why he wants to spend so much time with me. I think he should show his love by supporting me in challenging times. Your opinion? -- ROSE IN WASHINGTON

DEAR ROSE: Your boyfriend is self-centered. He's clearly less interested in your interests than in his own. Law school is challenging, even when a student doesn't have someone trying to sabotage her efforts -- which Louis appears to be doing morning and night. You have an important decision to make about your future, because your law degree is likely to last longer than your relationship with Louis, and that's what I think you should put first even if it means ending the "romance."

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