DEAR ABBY: Twenty years ago, when I was a teen-ager, I was inspired by a letter in your column. A woman had written about a recent tragedy in her life, having lost a parent due to a terrible accident. The writer appealed to your readers to make amends with family and friends as soon as possible, for her tragedy was compounded by having quarreled with her dad and not having "made up" before he died. You recommended that people live their lives to the fullest every day, and not to take family and friends for granted.
Well, even at 17, I recognized good advice when I saw it. I live each day to the fullest to the best of my ability and I have not taken my family for granted.
My dad recently passed away -- suddenly, without warning, from a heart attack. He was 62. The thought that has comforted me in the loss of my father was knowing that he and I had no "shoulda, coulda, woulda's." I long ago confronted him about things in our relationship that we needed to work out, and because of that our father/daughter relationship turned into a friendship. The same is true of my relationship with my mother and brother. During the last few years, my parents and I had even taken mini-vacations together.
So, while I miss my dad terribly and wish he were still with us, I know we had the best relationship possible. I have no regrets and I know he didn't either. Thank you for the advice, Abby. I am grateful. -- ALISON GAULDEN, RENO, NEV.
DEAR ALISON: Please accept my sympathy for the loss of your beloved father. I'm touched that something you read in my column inspired you to make the most of every precious moment you had with him. Years ago, a reader sent me this wonderful poem that says it very well:
If you are ever going to love me,
Love me now, while I can know
The sweet and tender feelings
Which from true affection flow.
Love me now
While I am living.
Do not wait until I'm gone
And then have it chiseled in marble,
Sweet words on ice-cold stone.
If you have tender thoughts of me,
Please tell me now.
If you wait until I'm sleeping,
Never to awaken,
There will be death between us,
And I won't hear you then.
So if you love me, even a little bit,
Let me know it while I'm living
So I can treasure it.