I swore it would never happen, but it did. I noticed it one sweltering August afternoon in 2001. I opened my mouth and ... out came my mother's voice! I was saying all the things I'd long ago sworn never to repeat. I HAD BECOME MY MOTHER!

I really can't be blamed, though. Can I help it that I've lived long enough to acquire more wisdom than the average woman? And along with all that wisdom an irresistible urge has come to share it — with everyone — all the time!

I'm not surprised that I'm the wisest woman I know. Just think about it. I've experienced things that today's kids know about only through textbooks. I watched the Beatles' first performance on The Ed Sullivan Show. I owned one of the first hoola hoops — though I don't recall ever mastering the use of it — and it even fit around my waist back then. I learned to read with Dick and Jane and I nearly flunked third grade when "new math" was introduced. I watched Bonanza before it became reruns. I experienced the thrill of replacing our black and white television with color and the anxiety of seeing a brother leave for Viet Nam. I lived through the turmoil of the civil rights movement and witnessed the assassination of John Kennedy on television. I saw hippies putting flowers in their hair and protesting the war, females burning their bras for women's liberation, and black children entering white schools to end segregation. I'm a veritable walking encyclopedia and a living history book, for Pete's sake.

So why SHOULDN'T everyone listen to me? My brain is a storehouse of vast knowledge. Unfortunately, I'm the only one who realizes this, except for my dog, King Louie, who idolizes me.

Do you know how difficult it is to bite my tongue when I see so many unfortunate souls making the same mistakes I've made? The impulse to teach others what I've had to learn firsthand is as hard to resist as a super fudge chocolate swirl ice cream sundae with brownie bits and extra hot fudge.

No wonder I was voted Know-it-all of the year by Buttinskies Anonymous. But, alas, people don't seem as eager to learn as I am eager to teach them. In fact, have you noticed how people are not receptive at all to unsolicited advice?

So why SHOULDN'T everyone listen to me?
After thousands of well-intentioned attempts to spread my wisdom to the masses, it occurred to me that when someone shares his or her problems, they're not asking for my advice. They need someone to listen as they vent and to acknowledge their pain as they share their hurt. They're not looking for someone to enumerate a detailed list of solutions. People don't care how much you know. They want to know how much you care.

So, here is a bit of advice from one of the world's wisest women: "Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep." Actually, I can't take credit for that bit of wisdom. It comes from the Bible (Romans 12:15 NKJV). This passage reminds me to just "be there" for others, rather than trying to solve their problems. A warm touch means more to a hurting person than a list of recommendations. My friends don't need a mother; they need a friend who listens while they talk, holds their hand when they're afraid, and hugs them when they cry.

Do you know someone who could use a friend and a hug today?