DEAR ABBY: I hope you will publish my letter so do-gooders will stop and think before they do more harm than good.
I used to love my back yard. It was a bit unkempt, but my husband is gone and I am elderly. However, the yard was mine. The flowers my husband planted gave me great joy -- until a well-meaning neighbor decided to bring her five teen-agers over one day, when I was not home, to "neaten up" my yard. She was trying to teach them concern for others.
I like these people. They were so happy about "surprising" me by cleaning up my yard that I didn't have the heart to tell them that the "weeds" they had pulled up were my lovely perennials that were about to bloom! And the "overgrown" evergreens were there to block the view of the neighbor's messy dog run. Now they are trimmed down to almost nothing, and the view is disgusting!
Abby, my yard is no longer mine, and I have shed many tears over the loss.
Please remind your readers that if they want to help, they should ASK first -- and not just take over. -- HURT BY GOOD INTENTIONS IN MICHIGAN
DEAR HURT: Your point is well taken -- and I'm printing your letter as a warning to well-intentioned people who may be tempted to make the innocent mistake your neighbor made. Take comfort in the fact that the evergreens will grow back.
Now dry your tears, call your well-meaning neighbor, and tell her that you have one more job for her and the kids -- to take you to a plant nursery to select replacements for the perennials your beloved husband had planted that gave you so much joy each summer. It will be a learning experience for all of you.