Dear Readers:

Here is another reprint of one of your most-saved columns. I hope this one is as special to you as it was to me.

Dear Ann:

Back in December 1987, I wrote to you and said I had seen "The Station" in your column shortly after my wife had been diagnosed with terminal cancer. I thought of all the dreams we had and the promises I made. One of those dreams was to go to Paris. With her doctor's permission, I took my wife to Europe, and we had the most beautiful vacation of our 43 years. She passed away 18 months later.

When my letter appeared in your column, I received phone calls and letters from across the country. I heard from long-lost friends and relatives, and even total strangers, who told me how much that column meant to them. I wrote again to thank you, and you printed that letter, too. The day it appeared, I was overwhelmed with calls, and received letters from as far away as Alaska and Germany.

Several people on Long Island wrote, and said if I were ever in their area, to come by for a chat. I thought, "Why not?" I contacted one of the ladies, and we met for coffee at a diner.

Viola and I have been together now for 10 years. I thank you, Ann, and the late Robert Hastings, whose family sent me a beautiful letter, for changing my life.

-- Irv Gaiptman, Margate, Fla.

THE STATION

By Robert J. Hastings

Tucked away in our subconscious is an idyllic vision. We see ourselves on a long trip that spans the continent. We are traveling by train. Out the windows we drink in the passing scene of cars on nearby highways, of children waving at a crossing, of cattle grazing on a distant hillside, of smoke pouring from a power plant, of row upon row of corn and wheat, of flatlands and valleys, of mountains and rolling hillsides, of city skylines and village halls.

But uppermost in our minds is the final destination. On a certain day, at a certain hour we will pull into the station. Bands will be playing and flags waving. Once we get there so many wonderful dreams will come true, and the pieces of our lives will fit together like a completed jigsaw puzzle. How restlessly we pace the aisles, damning the minutes for loitering -- waiting, waiting, waiting for the station.

"When we reach the station, that will be it!" we cry. "When I'm 18." "When I buy a new 450SL Mercedes Benz!" "When I put the last kid through college." "When I have paid off the mortgage!" "When I get a promotion." "When I reach the age of retirement, I shall live happily ever after!"

Sooner or later we must realize there is no station, no one place to arrive at once and for all. The true joy of life is the trip. The station is only a dream. It constantly outdistances us.

"Relish the moment" is a good motto, especially when coupled with Psalm 118:24: "This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it." It isn't the burdens of today that drive men mad. It is the regrets over yesterday and the fear of tomorrow. Regret and fear are twin thieves who rob us of today.

So, stop pacing the aisles and counting the miles. Instead, climb more mountains, eat more ice cream, go barefoot more often, swim more rivers, watch more sunsets, laugh more, cry less. Life must be lived as we go along. The station will come soon enough.