DEAR ABBY: Please continue to tell your readers how important it is to inquire about family members who are in prison.
Three years ago, my son went to prison. My sister and I visit him every other Sunday. It's a 450-mile round trip, so families have not only the guilt to deal with, but the financial burden also.
The first year I don't know if I would have survived without friends. Even people I barely knew took a few minutes of their time to say a kind word and ask how my son is adjusting.
On the other hand, people I have supported during periods of crisis in their lives I no longer consider friends because they haven't even called to ask how I am doing.
Abby, the woman who was mentioned in the letter may break down and cry when asked about her husband, but she will always remember the kindness. -- STRUGGLING IN ARKANSAS
DEAR STRUGGLING: Thank you for a letter that will ease the pain of those who are dealing with a similar problem. And particularly for assuring them that it is an act of kindness to inquire about a dear friend or family member who is incarcerated. I received a mountain of mail echoing your sentiments. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: My husband is in prison. When old friends and acquaintances ask me how he's doing, it tells me they still care and acknowledge him as a person.
When a man goes to prison, much is stripped away from him along with his street clothes -- his dignity, his pride, his possessions and, all too often, his family. When an old friend or acquaintance acknowledges my husband, it's like giving him back a bit of himself. He appreciates being told that someone asked about him.
What bothers me more than anything are those who whisper behind my back, won't look me in the eye and act uncomfortable around me, as if they would like to ask but don't know how. It would be much more polite to just ask. -- WIFE OF AN INMATE