From time to time you print letters about random acts of kindness. May I share something that happened to me? On Jan. 30, 2009, my husband and I took our three kids to a restaurant for breakfast to celebrate our twins' fourth birthday. When it was time to pay our bill, the waiter told us that a couple who had been sitting behind us had taken care of our tab.

What that couple didn't know was that the day before, my doctor had informed me a lump in my neck was probably lymphoma and that he needed to do a biopsy as soon as possible. He had wanted me to meet with a surgeon that morning, but I told him no. It was the twins' birthday, and I didn't want them to associate their birthday with the day Mommy got sick.

What that couple did was more than pay for our meal; it gave me hope. I felt it was a sign that everything would be "taken care of." To pay it forward, we left the waiter a large tip.

I did end up with Hodgkin's disease, but I have been in remission since August 2009.

- Blessed in Wisconsin

DEAR BLESSED: Your letter made me smile. Your hope was rewarded and everything was "taken care of." And because Hodgkin's lymphoma is a treatable cancer, I hope you will continue to enjoy good health for many decades to come.

DEAR ABBY: I have a big problem. My father refuses to spend time with me. He is a firefighter and says he has a busy schedule. I understand that. But when he has extra time, he will find anything else to do. I tried talking to him - it was like talking to a brick wall.

My mom has comforted me a lot, but I feel there is something missing in my life. That missing part is my dad. Please help me to figure out how I can make the situation better.

- Girl in Need in Baltimore

DEAR GIRL IN NEED: You have already done as much as you can. It is now up to your mother and/or your grandparents to help your father understand that there is more to being a parent than providing financial support. I hope he gets the message before it's too late - for him, not you.

DEAR ABBY: An odd custom is beginning to surface in my local church. Showers for new brides and new mothers are being announced from the pulpit at Sunday services. All church members are invited to attend, and in one or two instances even told what to bring for gifts.

I have always understood that showers are given by close friends, relatives, associates, etc. Just what is proper procedure for this? How does one respond to these "open" invitations? I have not responded. Am I wrong? Please help.

- Socially Naive in South Carolina

DEAR SOCIALLY NAIVE: You are not wrong; you are correct. Approach your pastor and ask why this is being done. If the reason is that the bride-to-be or mother-to-be is financially needy, and you would like to contribute, then attend the showers. If not, then treat the announcement as you would any open invitation. If you choose not to attend, you are not obligated to give a gift.

P.S. I agree with you. It is an "odd" custom.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS and getting along with peers and parents is in "What Every Teen Should Know." To order, send a business-sized, self- addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby - Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)