DEAR ABBY: Please remind your readers, young or old, to make provisions for their beloved pets in the event of major illness or death. I have rescued more than 10 cats from the local shelters this week alone.
These were all brought in individually by families of people who have passed away and made no specific provisions for their pets. The families are always happy to take the personal property, house, furniture, cars, etc., but the pets are up for grabs and end up in a cold, sterile animal shelter, not knowing what happened to them and why their home and their human companions are gone.
This is a real tragedy, and in most cases these animals are euthanized. The lucky ones are adopted by people like me who hear about their plight. Even if people cannot afford to have an attorney draw up a will, they should have handwritten instructions (holographic will) and leave it with a responsible person. There is no one to speak for these animals when their owners are gone. Please, Abby, get the word out to the public. -- CAROLE ELLIS, LOS ANGELES
DEAR CAROLE: I'm pleased to help. As important as putting the instructions in writing is to make sure in advance that the animal would be a welcome member of the family in the event of the owner's death or disability. Some pets, specifically some species of birds, can live to 75 years or so. And they deserve to live to a ripe old age if they are able to.
DEAR ABBY: After reading about Oscar Ortiz, the veteran who was appreciated after 55 years, I'm moved to write about the few seconds of appreciation I, a retired teacher, received while stopped at a busy intersection waiting for the traffic light to turn green.
A car filled with large, handsome, very noisy males drove alongside me and stopped. I glanced over at them and smiled. One of the young men said, ''Don't worry -- we're listening to Michael Jackson's 'Scream.''' I replied, ''Sounds normal to me after teaching high school for 30 years.''
The driver did a double take and said, ''Where did you teach?'' ''Westminster High School,'' I answered. He then said, ''Mrs. P. -- is that you?'' When I nodded affirmatively, he said: ''I never told you before, but I loved you. You were the best teacher I ever had in all my years in school.''
Then I recognized him. I said, ''Sean, I remember when you brought your 18-month-old son to my class, and I gave him toys to play with while you studied.'' Sean said, ''Look in the back seat, because there he is. He's almost 16 now.''
The traffic light changed and our cars started moving into the intersection. The last I saw of my former student, he was waving at me and shouting, ''Always remember, Mrs. P., I love you!''
I've been on cloud nine since those few seconds at the intersection. I hope this story might prompt students everywhere to communicate with those teachers who somehow influenced their lives. Dedicated teachers need appreciation. A few seconds will do -- but more is always appreciated. -- ULA PENDLETON, LOS ANGELES
DEAR ULA: I, too, hope your letter generates some response. I'm willing to bet that almost everyone can remember a special teacher who made a difference because of his or her caring heart.
Readers, if you do, sit down and write that teacher -- or former teacher -- a letter of acknowledgment and thanks. It won't take long, and the result will last longer than a few seconds at a stoplight. Your letter can be enjoyed repeatedly.
DEAR ABBY: This letter is intended for mothers and fathers who make beautiful children but don't spend quality time with them. You will never know what your child could become if you don't play an active role in his or her life.
When my wife and I married eight years ago, I said that when we had children, I would spend more time with them than my father spent with me. Judging from the events over the last seven years, I know I could have achieved much more had my father spent a little more time with me.
My son, who is now 7 years old, is academically excellent in school, talented in karate and basketball, gifted in art and has a CD on the market. At 7, he's already building for his future. All of this, and he still has time to play Pokemon and Digimon with his brother and sister, both of whom have received similar accolades.
Kids have so much potential. Parents, please spend time with you children. -- SOMEWHERE IN VIRGINIA
DEAR SOMEWHERE: Your plea touched my heart, and I'm printing it for parents who may need such a wake-up call. One of the unexpected benefits of women's liberation has been that recent generations of fathers have taken a greater role in child rearing. I, for one, think that's terrific.
DEAR ABBY: I have enjoyed reading about the random acts of kindness you have printed. I have a tremendous one to share with you that meant the world to me.
Four years ago, my husband, Roy, had a massive stroke. We had been married only 12 years when this happened. He is right-side paralyzed, has some speech impairment and is in a wheelchair. He does not like going out in public and usually refuses to do so. We were always ''card givers,'' and I missed his cards so much after he got sick.
Our wedding anniversary is Valentine's Day. As Valentine's Day approached, I was quite depressed because I knew I would not receive my usual cards from my precious husband. One of our neighbors, Susan, knew how I felt. She went to a card shop and spent hours selecting Valentine and anniversary cards. She found the perfect cards and brought them to our house. Then she asked me to go out for a little while, saying she needed to talk to Roy. After I left, she read the cards to him, helped him sign them, and told him to wait until the next morning to give them to me.
The next morning when I got Roy up and fixed our breakfast, I gave him the cards I had for him. You cannot imagine the smile on his face when he presented me with the cards that Susan had brought for him to give to me. They were absolutely beautiful, exactly the kind of cards Roy had given me over the years. It was as if he had gone and picked them out himself.
Susan has done this every year since Roy had his stroke. I always express my gratitude to her, but there are no words to tell her exactly how much this means to me. Thank you, Susan, and God bless you. -- BRENDA GAY, EASLEY, S.C.
DEAR BRENDA: Everyone should be so fortunate as to have a neighbor as caring and sensitive as Susan. I'm sure your letter will be a day-brightener for everyone who reads it, and plant the seed of an idea for readers who may know someone in a similar situation. Thank you for writing.
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