DEAR READERS: Mail still continues to arrive regarding the 80-year-old talkaholic. People identified strongly with that letter. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: Take this storyteller to any grammar school, rest home or veterans hospital. The list is endless.
Our 7-year-old grandson invited Grandpa to visit his second-grade classroom and tell them about growing up on a ranch and being a real cowboy. The children hung on my husband's every word. (Grandpa also brought relics to show.) Our 10-year-old grandson was green with envy and quickly asked Grandpa to visit his classroom -- another success.
Rotary, church and civic groups all ask this natural storyteller to reminisce when a scheduled speaker fails to appear. They know Russ remembers details about the development of our area's water, roads, subdivisions, politics -- even though he may not recall today's date.
These "talkaholics" are a national treasure. Please urge your readers to utilize these people. They have the time, plus priceless memories to share with all age groups. -- TALKAHOLIC'S PROUD WIFE IN SAN DIEGO
DEAR PROUD WIFE: You're right. Our seniors are a precious resource, and like our other national resources they should not be ignored because they cannot last forever. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: That 80-year-old gentleman's family might suggest to him that a written account of his youth is needed because his experiences are far too important to lose. These stories should be recorded for future generations.
If for some reason he's unable to record them himself, enlist the help of another family member -- perhaps a grandchild -- to record those stories and preserve those precious memories. If necessary, use a tape recorder or video camera.
I would treasure such an account. The older you get, the more interesting are the lives of family members who came before you. Every life has experiences, both good and bad, that are worth preserving. Someday, an enterprising family member might want to combine all the accounts into a book. Wouldn't you love to have such an account of your family? I would! -- CURIOUS ABOUT GRAMPS, SLIDELL, LA.
DEAR CURIOUS: Yes, I would. Unfortunately, my parents -- and many other relatives -- were reluctant to discuss in detail what life was like in Russia before they immigrated to the United States. Those stories are forever lost to me. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: Older people tell us the world as they see it. The stories they relate may be entertaining, teach a moral, involve an old trauma they are trying to work through, or be part of the significance of their lives or relationships. These stories are pure gold.
Ask for details about how things looked, when it happened, who else they knew at the time, where their brothers, sisters and parents were when it happened, what foods they served and what music was popular. If you're tired of a particular story, ask lots of questions. Help them remember another story you haven't heard -- anything they might recall that could have taken place in their lives.
I wish my father, aunts and uncles would have allowed me to tape-record their stories, but none would. Perhaps they were ashamed of their accents. They are all dead now. How I wish I could enjoy them just once more. -- ARLYNN GRIMM, LIVERMORE, CALIF.
DEAR ARLYNN: Hold a good thought. If you believe in an afterlife, your wish will come true.