Dear Abby:

My dad, Alvin Hennerberg, who is now 78, is a retired farmer living in Nebraska. He and my mom, Elaine, have been married for 50 years. A few years ago, as I reflected upon his role in my life, I realized what a strong role model he has been through his daily rituals and work. Even though I didn't grow up to be a farmer, what he taught me has translated into how I conduct my daily life.

I put some of the lessons I learned from him in writing and gave it to him for his birthday.

I suspect many sons and daughters have similar sentiments about their dads on this Father's Day. There may be sons and daughters who would enjoy reading them, passing them along to their fathers, and telling them that they, too, learned important life lessons that only a dad can teach.

Gary Hennerberg, Grapevine, Tex.

The wisdom you learned from your father is classic and deserves to be shared. You have done him proud. Read on.

What I Learned From You

* Make hay while the sun shines: When it's sunny and the forecast is good, bring out the equipment and take advantage of the circumstances of the day. Not every day is sunny, and not every day in life brings opportunity. I learned from you that when times are good we should make the most of them.

* Sharpen tools on a rainy day: When it rained and we couldn't go to the field, we used our time wisely by sharpening our tools, doing maintenance or other tasks that would give us a jump-start on the season. I learned from you that rainy days are actually a gift from God to refresh, renew and make us better.

* Keep machines cleaned and maintained: We washed the equipment and conducted routine maintenance as an automatic ritual. It made them look years newer than their actual age and cost less to operate in the long run. That attitude you instilled in me continues to this day. I take care of my belongings and treat them with respect.

* Stay between the lines: A clean field requires staying between the rows when cultivating it. When you stray outside the rows, you'll needlessly destroy precious crops. I stay within the lines in my personal life and do what's right for my business associates. I learned from you to be careful not to do anything that would destroy what we cultivate.

* Take the high road: An improper act shouldn't result in an improper response. Better to take the high road and be able to hold your head up, knowing you did the right thing. I learned from you that often the best response is silence, and that good fortune results when you treat people with respect.

* Go to church every Sunday and trust God: We did it. It's a lifelong habit you instilled in me. It has reinforced in me the real priorities of life and family. And, equally important, it has given me the freedom to know that at the end of the day, and at the end of time, everything will be all right.

To fathers everywhere -- birth fathers, stepfathers, foster fathers, too: Happy Father's Day to all of you. And to my own father, Morton Phillips in Minneapolis, a Happy Father's Day to my one and only "Pop."

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 www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

(c) 2004, Universal Press Syndicate