Dear Ann:

You have printed several letters about elderly people in California who still are permitted to drive even though they are a danger. I would like to add the story of our good friend "Arlene."

Arlene was 96 years old and had become quite forgetful. One time, an officer saw her sitting in her parked car and asked her if she needed help. She told him she couldn't find her house, even though it was directly across the street from where she was parked. She would also show up at church in the middle of the week and wonder why there was no Sunday service. Recently, she went for a walk and rang a neighbor's doorbell. When the person answered, Arlene asked, "Do I know you?"

We were very concerned about her driving. Finally, our pastor wrote to the police and explained the problem. The day before Arlene's 97th birthday, two officers came to her door and requested her driver's license and car keys. Arlene handed them over, but she was devastated. The next day, those wonderful officers came back to her home with a birthday cake.

After that, several church members provided transportation for Arlene. One couple volunteered to take her to church every Sunday. My husband and I drove her to the potluck suppers on Wednesdays. Arlene didn't always remember why we were picking her up, but she was always happy to see us.

Last year, our pastor, the church members and Arlene's nephew worked together to find a nice care facility for that dear woman, and she moved in a few months ago. I am certain if our church community had not intervened, Arlene would still be driving.

M.W. in Glendale, Calif.

I am happy for Arlene that she is now in "a nice care facility." I am also happy for the residents of Glendale. Thanks for letting us know. (P.S.: What a sweet and thoughtful police department your town has.)

Dear Ann:

A few years ago, you printed an insightful piece about gossip and the damage it can do. A great many people need to be reminded. Would you please print it again?

Watertown, Wis.

I agree. Here it is. Thanks for asking. Gossip -- Remember Me?

My name is Gossip. I have no respect for justice.

I maim without killing. I break hearts and ruin lives.

I am cunning and malicious and gather strength with age.

The more I am quoted, the more I am believed.

I flourish at every level of society.

My victims are helpless. They cannot protect themselves against me

because I have no name and no face.

To track me down is impossible. The harder you try, the more elusive I


I am nobody's friend.

Once I tarnish a reputation, it is never the same.

I topple governments and wreck marriages.

I make innocent people cry in their pillows.

My name is Gossip.

Gem of the Day: If the world seems like a cold place to you, toss a few logs on the fire, and warm it up.

(C) 1999, Creators Syndicate Inc.

To find out more about Ann Landers and read her past columns, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at