DEAR ABBY: Although this is years late, I am writing to thank you. For years I saw the addresses you printed for Operation Dear Abby. I always thought it would be nice to write to someone, but I put it off. In September 1990, when our troops were sent to the Gulf, I decided to do it.
Within three weeks I had a response. My pen pal was a young Marine with a family. I was a working woman caring for my elderly father. Our letters continued for the entire time he was in the Gulf. You cannot imagine my surprise when, shortly after his return to the United States, I received a phone call. He and his family were coming to New York City for a vacation and wanted to meet me.
Ten days later they came to dinner, and our correspondence became a deep friendship. Our two families became one. Over the next few years we spent vacations and holidays together, and we shared each other's joys and sorrows. The phone bills boosted the stock in several phone companies.
My father passed away in late 1995, but I know that our friendship with them added joy to his last years. Losing Dad was very difficult for me, and without the support and caring of my pen pal and his family, it would have been even more so. In my wildest dreams I never expected one letter to have such life-altering results. My pen pal is my best friend.
I wanted you and your readers to know that sometimes the smallest acts can produce the greatest results, and I hope this letter makes you smile. -- NEW JERSEY PEN PAL
DEAR PEN PAL: It has, and thank you for it. Your letter proves that doing a selfless good deed not only helps others, but sometimes rewards the giver tenfold.