Friday, January 18, 2013

Dear Dear Abby


Barbara: Dear Abby,

I am very sorry to hear you’ve passed away. Especially knowing that your long illustrious life ended with Alzheimer’s. I hope you didn’t suffer too much, and that your loving family didn’t suffer too much letting you go.

When I heard the news, I knew right away that I had to write. I didn’t immediately take stock of the last time I read your column (which was long before your daughter took it over), but I did have a visceral memory from my fraught adolescence of me pouring over those letters to and from you. I would skip past the dire world news and go straight to your advice column. In many ways, that ritual was much like my experience reading blogs now—unrelated people coming together from far and wide to share their humbling, difficult, complicated, tragic, nasty, romantic, sad, confused, loving experiences living in this complex world. For the first time in my life, I saw people bare their souls. For a naïve, inexperienced, soon-to-be woman like me, it seemed impossible that people would be so open and honest, revealing hearts and lives I either related to with every fibre of my being, or ones I was fascinated to discover, or ones I hoped I’d never ever have to encounter.

How did you do it? You were so brave and honest. You were funny. You said things that didn’t offend me, that opened my eyes. You didn’t pander or patronize. You shot from the hip. You were gracious and decent. Wasn’t it hard, exhausting, to be so wise and patient? I don’t think so—because we never heard that it had been either one or the other. You were graceful and kind about your role as therapist to the world (aka North America). You showed us by example that we could learn from our mistakes and change our views in a changing world. You showed us we didn’t need to hide our mistakes and fears behind closed doors, but that we could come out and share them with others so they could learn from them too.

If not for you and the trend you began and the example you set, why, none of us might know how to do this online/internet/social media thing with any social grace. You led the vanguard, baby. You showed the way it ought to be done. With kindness and compassion and good common sense.

Thank you very sincerely from the bottom of my heart for teaching me so much about the human experience. R.I.P.

Love, Barbara

(Dear Readers, if you don’t know to whom I’m referring, Dear Abby was/is a daily advice column that ran from the late 50s to present day. Pauline Phillips wrote it until the early 2000s until her daughter took it over.)

Deb: Dear Abby,
You spoke to a generation, nay, several generations about brave and bold gentility. You were of your time and beyond your time. Rest in Peace. 

35 comments:

  1. I read Dear Abby everyday for years. During breakfast I would sit with my bowl of cereal and yesterday's newspaper. It didn't matter that it was yesterday's paper because all I was going to read were the comincs and Dear Abby. Her wit and wisdom will be greatly missed.

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    1. Yes, exactly. I feel it like it was just yesterday.

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  2. Thanks to having been a papergirl for many years we always had the newspaper and so when I was as young as 9 Dear Abby and the comics were "my" two little sections. I always found a bit of common sense and human decency there.

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    1. Funny how many of were drawn to her at such young ages. You'd think she would only have appealed to adults. Just goes to show how learning about the human experience isn't limited to immediate experience only.

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  3. Dear Abby,
    I really wish I knew you better. But I can feel the depth of the place you hold in my sweet friend's life. You've transitioned into pure positive consciousness and I know you are reading all of this and feeling the emotion of everyone who ever felt inspired by you.
    I just want to make a request. Flow your presence in my friend's life. Let her feel you through insights and goosebumps and ideas. She knows your importance but let her FEEL the important part you'll play in everything she'll ever write, let her feel the "Abby essence" in her writing through which she'd know you are still here. Still watching over every person who felt your influence. That you'll always flow through them in their happiness, smiles, joy and inspiration. That you never really left and never will.
    Thanks for inspiring my Sweet Barbara and for teaching her so much. Have a great time in pure positive energy!! :)

    Love, Shalaka

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    1. P.S. Say Hi to Liz Sladen for me! :)

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    2. Oh, this beautiful letter is so touching, Shalaka. Thank you: for the perfectly lovely words and for the sentiments behind them. So appreciate this! xo

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  4. Dear Abby,

    I read your column for quite a while. Mostly just for sheer amusement. But thank you for inspiring a generation and giving your gentle advice to a lifetime of faithful readers.

    Love, Holly

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    1. Even though there's a melancholy when we see someone off, we can't forget just how much laughter she brought. Thanks for this, Holly!

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  5. So sad to hear about her passing. I used to read her column when I was younger.

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    1. She spanned all our decades. Remarkable.

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  6. I read her in my teen years over 35 years ago and that was it. But I clung to her advice as well. It made sense.

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    1. Yes, I never read her after those years. But that sense memory (and gratitude) came flooding back when I heard the news.

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  7. i am afraid that i live on the wrong continent to know about your work Dear Abby. i see barbara mentioned you died as a result of Alzheimer's . i see people with that condition and also with dementia every day when i got to visit my Dad . all i can do is echo Barbara's words and hope you went peacefully without suffering and send my sympathy and respect to your family .

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    1. A sad thing for you to have to relate to, but there it is: another thing that ties the human experience together. xoxo

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  8. I have read Dear Abby ever since I can remember. It was on the same page as the comics. After I saw an interview with Abby and Ann, who were really Popo and Eppie, I always read her columns in her adorable midwest accent.I still do.

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  9. I, too, used to read the columns with relish. Sad to lose such icons. What a lovely tribute.

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  10. Dear Abby was a daily staple for my girlfriends and me during our teenage years. And of course she inspired the awesome John Prine song! A legend has passed. - Anne

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  11. I really liked the tribute that out local news did for her. They showed her respones to 'controversial' letters. All of her answers were in favor of equality and freedom for everyone; gay, srtaight, bi, tall, short, thin, thick, or any race, religion, or any thing at all. These are all still issues we are unfortunatly facing and fighting but her answers from the 50s were all ahead of her time and ours. We lost someone special.

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    1. This was one of the areas in which she was a true "spiritual" leader. She stood her ground when most floundered. Now we take it for granted. But she truly made a difference.

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  12. I donk,know what or who dear abby was or is but im sorry for her loss

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  13. My favorite question/answer is the following (summarized):

    Dear Abby,
    I want to go to law school but when I get out in (X) # of years, I'll be 54. Should I go?

    Dear Reader,
    How old will you be in (X) # of years if you don't go to law school?

    RIP

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    1. Best. Answer. Ever. See what I mean? She could say it all in a few short words.

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  14. I know about Abby and her advice-giving. She helped so many people by being a friend and by being honest. May she rest in peace.

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  15. Dawn that is a perfect choice to share from her writings!!!! ahhhhh the memories it brings back. There has to be somewhere that I could read her again on the internet. Thanks for sharing all. Lovely. just.....lovely.

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    1. I don't know how many years ago I read that, but it's stuck with me ever since. It was so motivational in one single sentence, I had to put it here.

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  16. My mom used to cut out Dear Abbys for my sister and I, and often she would hang them on the fridge. Always enjoyed reading them and learning from her.

    I also watched the horse video posted earlier and as a horse girl myself I am so thankful that you shared it. Haunting and beautiful.

    Lastly, I just wanted to say hello again! I don't know if you remember me, but I had a blog a couple of years ago and used to follow you (as Kassy with a K). After I deleted my blog I sort of fell off the face of the blogging planet, but I am back and so happy to be back to reading your hilarious, lovely posts!! :]

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  17. Oh, Kassy --oops, Kas-- of course, we remember you! Nice to see you back here. Hope all is well and good. xoxo

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