What I Learned from Dear Abby

Pauline Friedman Phillips, better known as “Dear Abby,” died January 16 at the age of 94. She spent more than 40 years dispensing her wisdom to us all in our times of curiosity, and in times of need. She helped us with etiquette, manners, relationships, and self-esteem – a woman of generosity and grace.

She was a pioneer in a field I have come to love dearly. In a world of confusion, she brought her light, and offered the best she could. She was not a licensed psychotherapist, but a contemplative thinker and caring soul, reaching out to be of assistance.

I find myself now standing on her shoulders with my call-in show, “I Want a Better Life.” I am grateful for the path she carved, for the foundation she laid. People are not so reticent to ask for help – regular people with regular problems – thanks to her. Most people know that we all need someone to turn to, someone who is not in our lives with their own agendas, someone with a caring heart and a desire to be of service.

Thank you, Dear Abby, for your years of work and devotion to the public who knew they could lean on you and you would be there. May I continue in that vein and aid those who seek assistance. May I pick up that baton, in my own way, and be a regular source of light. Thank you for having the courage to carve this path. We are all better for your life and your work.

Dr. Jeannie Bertoli is a psychotherapist.

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