Editor's Note: Hundreds of Ann Landers' loyal readers have requested that newspapers continue to publish her columns. These letters originally appeared in 1999.
Dear Ann Landers: I was run over by a drunk driver 21 years ago. As a result, my right arm is paralyzed, and my right leg is partially paralyzed and shorter than the left. I walk with a crutch.
I am completely independent and self-sufficient, but whenever I am out in public, someone asks, "What happened to you?" Not a day goes by that some ignorant jerk doesn't confront me with that rude question. Recently, a neighbor's 7-year-old grandson imitated the way I walk in front of his friends. They thought it was hilarious. Parents should teach their children that it is cruel to make fun of a handicapped person.
The able-bodied cannot comprehend the embarrassment, humiliation and struggle we must endure. Please tell your readers that we should be treated with respect, not stared at or questioned. Thank you. - Managing in Mesa, Ariz.
Dear Mesa: Your letter should go a long way toward educating those who are insensitive to the disabled. I hope parents of young children will take special note of what you have written.
Dear Ann Landers: I would like to address this message to the grown children of widowers who are involved in relationships with widows in the evening of their lives. Many of these children do not understand how important we are to one another, and they treat us as if we were "intruders." To these children, I would like to say:
I am the one who makes sure your father takes along a jacket so he doesn't get chilled in an air-conditioned movie theater.
I am the one to whom he tells all his life stories, often more than once, and I still listen to them respectfully.
I am the one who goes to the doctor with him, at his request, to help him remember what the doctor says.
I am the one who plays cards with him as we listen to music, just to keep him company and because I like him.
I am the one who watches that he doesn't eat the foods the doctor has told him he shouldn't have.
I am the one who sits by his bedside in the hospital, making sure he is cared for, fluffing his pillow, speaking to the doctors, reporting back to you and, finally, driving him home to his apartment.
I am also the one who respects and admires your father, values his opinion, appreciates his kindnesses, loves his affection, revels in his compliments and needs his companionship.
You should call me now and then and let me know you are pleased that I am in your father's life. — Florida Widow
Dear Florida: I wonder how many sons and daughters who read your letter today will make that phone call? I'll bet it will be more than you think.
Lonesome? Take charge of your life and turn it around. Write to receive Ann Landers' booklet "How To Make Friends and Stop Being Lonely." To find out more about Ann Landers and read her past columns, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.