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Dear Ann Landers: I am writing in regard to "A Perplexed Father in Boston," whose wife was killed in an automobile accident. He is now wondering if he should tell their two sons, ages 12 and 16, that their mother was driving drunk. You said the children need not be told about it, and added, "It's tragic enough that the woman lost her life." What would be truly tragic is if these young men did NOT know about the circumstances surrounding their mother's death.

I am a 19-year-old with a recovering alcoholic mother and a crack-addicted father. Because of what my parents are, I have become the person I am today. I have a full-time job in an attorney's office, attend college, make good grades and am an active member in my church. I believe, however, that my greatest accomplishment is the fact that I have never taken a drink or used a drug. I have made my life the way it is because I have seen first-hand the destruction that drugs and alcohol can cause.

These young men have the right to know how their mother died, and they should be told because, just maybe, it could keep them from making the same mistake. Would their mother want them to know all the facts surrounding her death if it would save their lives? I think the answer is, "Yes."

-- A Caring Daughter in Fla.
Dear Daughter: I heard from several readers who agreed with you. They all said the boys should be told the circumstances of their mother's death because it could prevent them from going down the same road. Children of alcoholics often become alcoholics themselves because of a genetic component. Knowing the truth would serve as both a dire warning and an effective deterrent.

Reunited and it feels so good

Dear Ann Landers: I can never thank you enough for printing your annual Reconciliation Day column. I had not seen or spoken to my son and his wife for several years, even though we live in the same town. I had always thought "maybe" or "some day," but "some day" never came and "maybe" never happened.

The day that column appeared, it woke me up to the fact that the estrangement was also my fault. I wrote to my son that evening and apologized for anything I had said or done that might have hurt him. The end of the story will please you, I'm sure. With tears, hugs and kisses, my son came back to me, and my heart is happier than it has been in a very long time. Thank you for giving me such a beautiful gift.

-- A Mother in La Crosse, Wis.
Dear La Crosse: Letters such as yours make my day. I am glad to know that my column provided the inspiration for your forgiving and loving gesture.

Dr. Who?

Dear Ann Landers: What is the proper use of an honorary degree? A couple of years ago, a pastor in our community received an honorary degree from a small college. He now uses the title "Dr." beside his name in the Sunday bulletin, as well as on the notices posted in front of the church.

I always thought an honorary degree was just that -- an honor conferred to show respect to an individual, but not to be used in the same way as an earned doctorate. What is your take on this?

-- Just Wondering in Hemet, Calif.
Dear Wondering: I have 33 honorary degrees framed and shamelessly displayed on my library wall, but I have never referred to myself as "Dr. Landers." I feel that using an honorary title would be a bit fraudulent. However, I always enjoyed the commencement services where degrees were conferred because the speakers were invariably far more distinguished than I, and I was honored to be in their presence.

Problems? Dump on Ann. Write her at The Buffalo News, P.O. Box 100, Buffalo, N.Y. 14240.

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