Saturday, May 12, 2012

Dear Abby

If you are an American of a certain age, you know Dear Abby and think of her as a wise aunt.  Growing up, I read her columns in the Asheville Citizen-Times as often as I possibly could.  I searched her words of wisdom for something that I could apply to my life.  I know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that I wrote letters to her.  I am not sure whether or not I ever mailed any of them.  Just writing them made me feel better.

Sixth grade--
Dear Abby,
How do I deal with a dad who is the best when he isn't drinking, but not so nice when he comes home drunk.  I don't want my friends to know that I can't invite them to my house for sleepovers because I never know which dad will come home.  I just pretend that everything is normal.  What can Mama and I do to make it better?

Seventh grade--

She answered that letter about my dad and he stopped drinking from my 7th grade year until I was in college.  Now my biggest problem was my first crush.  The cousin of my best friend.  New to my school.  We "went out" (stop asking me where we are going, Mama) for a month before he dumped me.  My very strict dad wouldn't let me walk to school and watch Handsome Boy play little league football. I was heartbroken. (He is still handsome.  He came to visit my family when my dad died.  I will always love him for that alone.)
Dear Abby,
What can I do to make him like me again?  Why doesn't he see that I am perfect for him?

8th grade--
This time I dumped Handsome Boy after a month.  (We still weren't allowed to "go" anywhere.  We saw each other at school, at church, and at my best friend's house.)  Oh well.  I remember there was another, older boy involved.  Did I break his heart the way he broke mine?  Oh, the perils of middle school and first loves.
Dear Abby,
I really blew it this time.  Is there any hope that I can win him back?  That he will ask me to the prom someday?
(He didn't... but he did ask me to dance.  I went to Senior Prom dateless.)

After my sophomore year in college, on the eve of my first trip to France (my first experience flying!), with Mama Mildred--
Dear Abby,
I am scared to death and excited at the same time.  What if I can't do this?  What if no one understands me?  What if I don't find a place to live?  What if I run out of money?  What if this country doesn't live up to my dreams?  My mom is the best.  She is so happy for me.  My dad won't speak to me.  He wishes I would never leave home.

Mildred was only 37 years old in this photo!  Just a baby.  I now wish that I could've taken her with me!

My wedding--
Dear Abby,
I am so happy.  It's been a beautiful day.  My dad walked me down the aisle.  We were surrounded by everyone who loves us and it was a lovely, simple ceremony.  No more nightmares about not being able to find my shoes!  Mama wore a navy blue suit she bought just for the occasion.

Visiting Nebraska for an in-law family reunion, the mom of two wonderful little boys--
Dear Abby,
I had no idea I could love anyone this much.  Please help me keep them safe.  How do we share the wisdom of our years with them?  Will they think we are old the way we believed our parents were?  Now I understand why Mama always asked me to call her and let her know I had made it back to Durham safe and sound.

Those two little boys are now 24 and 19 years old.  I still read Dear Abby, only now in the Durham Herald-Sun.  I still look for advice.  I suppose we never stop looking for wisdom.  I still want to protect my boys and keep them out of harm's way.
I still have my mom.  She continues to support me and give me good advice.  She's been my biggest cheerleader my whole life.  She's my Dear Abby.

While looking through pictures, I came across a Mother's Day card I made for her at some point.  It isn't dated.  An appropriate find on the eve of Mother's Day 2012. 

I even wrote a poem--

To A Loving Mother

My Mother is good to me,
I want to please her, too,
So I'll try to be real good
And act as she would have me do.
I'm glad we have a special day
Set aside when we may say,
I Love you, and hope you have
A Happy Mothers Day!

I love you, Mildred!  I know that I do not tell you that often enough.

In a recent Dear Abby column, she printed her favorite brownie recipe.  She warns chocolate lovers to prepare to start swooning.  I decided to give it a try since both boys are home tonight and like late night snacks.

Dear Abby's Brownies
makes 4 1/2 dozen

1 cup butter (2 sticks)
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups chopped walnuts (I omitted these)
1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup heavy cream
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 350˚F.
Line the bottom of an 18x12x2 (or 1)-inch baking pan with baking parchment paper and spray generously with butter-flavored cooking spray.
In the top of a double-boiler, over medium heat, melt better and 4 ounces chocolate.  Reserve.
In a large bowl, beat sugar and eggs until fluffy.  Add flour and salt, mixing well.  Add chocolate mixture, blending thoroughly.  Stir in nuts and vanilla.
Pour into prepared pan.  Batter should be about 1/2 inch thick, not more.  Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until top is crisp and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool before pouring frosting on top.
For the frosting:
Bring cream to a boil, stirring constantly.  Place chopped chocolate in a medium bowl; pour boiling cream over the chocolate and stir to blend well.  Spread thin layer of warm frosting over top of brownies in pan.  When cool, cut into 2-inch squares.

Bon appétit, Dear Abby and Mama Mildred!  My wise women.  Happy Mother's Day!

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