Dear Abby: I have waited for more than two months to write this letter, and many prayers have been said to Our Father to help me get it right.

I have traveled from the Southwest to the Northeast visiting nursing homes with family members and dear friends, as well as doing volunteer work in them years ago. I have seen people there with cancer, Alzheimer's, emphysema, and some who were just old and sick. The staff in some homes is not very kind to many of the lonely residents.Please, Abby, urge your readers who want to do something worthwhile to volunteer in nursing homes.

Please tell families to stay with the loved ones when their days are numbered - or hire, ask or even beg someone to be by their side.

My darling aunt, whom I loved dearly, died last Thanksgiving Day of cancer - so beautiful, but so afraid of being alone. There was no way I could leave. She would say, "Please don't leave . . . I'm afraid," and so I stayed.

Abby, I hope your readers will take what I've said to heart. After all, any one of them could be next.

- Grieving in Orange, Texas

Dear Grieving: Please accept my sincere sympathy for the loss of your beloved aunt. I'm hopeful your eloquent letter will move others to volunteer in nursing homes. Although there are medicines that can alleviate physical pain, the most effective cure for loneliness is caring human contact.

Dear Abby: Is the following happening all over the country, or is it just happening in the Southern states? I mean, females going all out to get a man.

My husband and I are retirees who have moved to Florida for our so-called "golden years," and this is the second time that this has happened. The most recent incident concerns a somewhat younger woman (a clerk in a food specialty shop) who used sexy conversation and spoken intimacies to attract my husband.

I am afraid that if this business continues, I will use physical violence on this person. Please help me.

- R.L. in Winter Haven, Fla.

Dear R.L.: Calm down - there is no guarantee your husband is buying what she's "selling." A word to the owner of the shop should be sufficient to stop the problem.

Dear Abby: The letters you receive about the kindness of strangers are always enjoyable to read. Let me take this opportunity to thank the gallant young man who, during an unexpected gust of wind, chased after my wig as it rolled across a parking lot. Sign me . . .

. . . Now Covered in Phoenix

To order "How to Write Letters for All Occasions," send a business-sized, 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 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

Universal Press Syndicate

*****

On Line

All of the Dear Abby columns for the past several years are available online. Search for "DEAR ABBY" in the Lifestyle section and the Deseret News archives.