Yesterday I had a phone call from Jeanne Phillips, better known as Dear Abby, the most widely syndicated newspaper columnist in the world with a daily readership of over 110 million. I had contacted her office earlier in the day to inquire about interviewing her for my caregiver book. Her mother, Pauline Phillips, the original Dear Abby, suffers from Alzheimer’s disease; Jeanne stepped in to take over the column several years ago and has been writing it ever since.
I knew how busy Jeanne was (I read somewhere that she gets 10,000 letters a day), but I hoped she’d be willing to share stories about caring for her mother and offer advice to other caregivers – advice being her specialty.
I spoke to her assistant and explained what my book was about. I was told the message would be relayed and was thanked for my interest. I didn’t have any expectation that I’d hear back soon or ever; you put out feelers when you’re researching and you never know who will want to cooperate.
Much to my surprise and delight, Jeanne called a few hours later and said she’d be glad to talk to me. She turned out to be every bit the common-sense voice that so many have come to trust. She was candid and down-to-earth and very giving of her time, and the stories she told me were ones everyone will relate to.
“Next time you’re down in L.A., let’s have lunch,” she said as the conversation was winding up.
“I’d enjoy that,” I said and meant it.