My last column was about four words I believed could make the world a better place. If a person could simply say to another, "Tell me your story," and then listen quietly, both people would change. Within days, I received hundreds of letters requesting "Tell Me Your Story" bumper stickers I'd promised free, and almost as many e-mails - all from people wanting to join a movement that could change the planet through the listening to others' stories.
Dear Sam, As your only living grandfather, I want to welcome you into this life. Always remember that you are the product of love and passion. This type of love is one of the many treasures life has to offer. Also remember that, despite its moments of pain and darkness, life is a gift and a blessing.
Dear Sam, This is the third column I have written to you. The first was three years ago on the event of your birth. Since that time, you have become one of the most beautiful and gentle children I have ever seen. The second column was last year when I explained that you had been diagnosed with "high functioning autism" and, although you are an incredibly happy little boy, you would need a good deal of special help.
Dear Sam, Happy birthday! I have written you a letter each year since your birth; this is the fourth. The first was to welcome you into our family. The second was to tell you that when you were 20 months old we discovered that you had some autistic characteristics (pervasive developmental disorder). And last year I wrote about what your parents were going through trying to get you special education services through the school system.
Dear Sam, The last time we met, you told me all about your new adventures in wrestling. This is the first I've heard of a wrestling league for 5-year-olds, but it's a good sport and a promising way to learn about yourself. But then you told me you were having a problem. You said another 5-year-old boy, Luke, was small like you, and every time you wrestled him, you lost.
Joyce was abused by her father when she was 12 years old. She'd hated him ever since. When I met her last year, she was 50 years old and had a long history of difficult relationships with men, depression and overall inability to enjoy life. She blamed most of her problems on her father.
You can feel free to e-mail me questions, reactions or vignette's about your life.
And please know that if I use your correspondents, although I will try to disguise identifying characteristics, because this is a public forum, I cannot assure confidentiality.