DEAR ABBY: Quite some time ago, you published a letter from someone who had lost his mother or father and had failed to communicate his love to them. Then it was too late.

I want you to know that I benefited from that letter and your response. Recently, I lost my mother. She was only 69 and died of a heart attack. She was such a sweetheart. Thanks to you, my sadness was not due to guilt, because for the last 10 or 12 years of her life I telephoned her regularly, wrote letters from time to time and remembered her on special occasions. I also visited her every three months although it was a 13-hour drive. On those occasions we had so many laughs and such a good time.While I feel that I would have tried to be a good son, your column reminded me that we are on this Earth such a short time, and after someone dies, it's too late to say, "I love you." Thank you.

If you want to use this letter, you may use my name. - THOMAS T. MENEAR, ATLANTA

DEAR MR. MENEAR: The letter that made a difference in your life is one that has been clipped and carried in more wallets than any other. And here it is:

DEAR ABBY: I am the most brokenhearted person in the world. I could always find the time to go everywhere else, but never time to visit Mom and Dad. They sat at home and loved me just the same. It's too late now to give them those few hours of happiness I was too selfish and busy to give.

Now when I go to their graves and see the green grass above them, I wonder if God will ever forgive me for the heartaches I must have caused them while they were alive. I pray to God that those who still have their parents to visit, do so, and show their love and respect while there is still time, for it's later than you think. - TOO LATE

DEAR ABBY: The letter about the toddler who fell into a five-gallon bucket of water and drowned while his mother ran to answer the telephone prompts this letter. Actually, I want to address two separate but related issues.

No. 1: The ridiculous belief that when a telephone rings, you have to run to answer it! I am a physician, and I've had a number of people come to my office due to injuries they have received when they tripped and fell while running to answer the telephone. I say, if the phone rings while you're busy, let the blasted thing ring - if it's really important, the party will call back.

The other issue: Many lives could be saved if everyone - including housewives - knew how to do CPR. One never knows when a friend or family member will black out or have a heart attack. Most American Red Cross chapters offer excellent courses for home and workplace emergency care. - DR. MAX WREN, McALISTER, OKLA.

DEAR DR. WREN: (I am not going to say you're for the birds.) Thanks for a fine and ever timely letter.

CHUCKLE (OR GROAN) FOR TODAY: "It's not the world that's got so much worse, but the news coverage that's got so much better." G.K. Chesterton

To get Abby's booklet "How to Write Letters for All Occasions," send a long, business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Letter Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054. (Postage is included.)