DEAR ABBY: I am a casual reader of your column and saw the June 15 letter from "Lucky Wife of a Hero." What a refreshing piece it was to read. I know many people write to you with hardships in their lives, but that letter was one of the most uplifting I have read in a long time. It literally made my day.
While "Lucky Wife's" husband's help to her may seem surprisingly simple, it's great to hear about people doing the little things for those they love, and being appreciated in return. Thank you for publishing it. -- U.S. MARINE IN JAPAN
DEAR U.S. MARINE: And thank you for writing. In my response to "Lucky Wife" I asked readers to share their stories of people they have encountered who -- like the husband in that letter -- are "everyday heroes." Read on for a sample:
DEAR ABBY: My life has been touched by several heroes. I became pregnant during my senior year in high school. Because marriage wasn't an option, I placed my son for adoption. In college, I met my husband, and we have raised three children together.
After 35 years my son, Paul, contacted me. The first hero who stepped up was my husband. Without hesitation, he welcomed Paul into our family.
My next hero was Paul's wife, who offered to share her husband during the holidays. Paul flew from Minnesota to California on Christmas Day to meet me and my family. It was an incredible experience.
It was then that I learned about the two heroes who had taken Paul into their home and their hearts all those years ago and raised him as their own. Paul's adoptive family encouraged him to find us, learn about his birth heritage, and have celebrated every moment of our reunion.
But the greatest hero in my story is Paul. Inspired by the sacrifices of the young men and women who serve our country, he felt compelled to join the Army National Guard and today is serving in Iraq.
Soon my family will travel to Minnesota to meet Paul's adoptive parents and siblings, his wife and his children. My heroes have joined together to enrich my life, and I can't begin to thank each and every one of them. -- SHERI IN ESCONDIDO, CALIF.
DEAR ABBY: I haven't seen my "everyday hero" since I was 12, but the way she treated me has made a huge difference in my life.
Annie was a middle-aged woman working for an aeronautics company who gave me my first job when I was 10. She taught me to plant seeds and keep the garden weeded, to stack wood, paint and mow. I felt proud being able to earn my own money. Even more important, Annie gave me a safe place to go, an adult I could talk to and the conviction that if you work hard enough you'll be rewarded.
I'm almost 30 now, but I have never forgotten that wonderful woman and what she did for me, and I never will. -- ANDI IN TACOMA
DEAR ABBY: When my daughter Mindy was in high school she dated Rob, a young man who adored her. While she dated others, he waited patiently until she returned to him. They married after college and had three children.
Mindy destroyed the marriage, and I told her at the time that she had rocks for brains. Their divorce was amicable. Rob attended all holiday and birthday gatherings. Neither one remarried.
My daughter was "Miss Independent." She excelled at her job and didn't need anyone because she could do it all herself. More than 10 years passed.
Then, on vacation, Mindy was in a terrible accident that left her a quadriplegic. Suddenly she had to depend on someone else for everything, and Rob was right there. His attitude was, "She FINALLY needs me."
For five years, he has assumed complete care for Mindy in addition to holding down a full-time job. She has greatly improved, can drive a specially equipped van and is back at her job. My daughter would be lost without the man who loves her, and she knows it. I thank God for him every day of my life. -- GRATEFUL MOTHER-IN-LAW