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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: My husband, "Wayne," and I met in high school. After high school, our friendship grew deeper and we fell in love. We married and had three beautiful children together who are now 10, 8 and 5. I thought we would have a bright future together and watch our children grow.

Two years ago, he began experiencing unusual symptoms and went to see his doctor. We learned days later that he had leukemia. For a year and a half, Wayne fought to survive. Unfortunately, it was not to be. I lost my friend, my husband and the father of my children.

I am now a 35-year-old widow, raising my children alone. I am trying to do the best I can without him.

Wayne told me during his illness that he didn't want another man to raise our children. It was one of his last wishes. Abby, was he being selfish, or should I abide by his wishes? I loved Wayne more than all the stars in the sky. What I fear now is living alone, and I didn't plan on being a single parent.

Should I allow myself to move past this and concentrate on my and my children's future? Or am I being selfish? -- LONELY MOM IN RHODE ISLAND

DEAR LONELY MOM: I offer my sincere sympathy for the untimely loss of your mate. Allowing yourself to move past this tragedy and get on with your life is not selfish -- it's practical. By eliciting a deathbed promise from you that you would never remarry, your husband was trying to hold onto life -- an impossibility. Please don't feel guilty. Life is for the living.

DEAR ABBY: After reading the letter from the Elvis impersonator's mom who was upset that her son was the brunt of unkind comments, I just had to write.

My brother-in-law is an Elvis impersonator, and he does it 24 hours a day, seven days a week -- and frankly, the family is sick and tired of it! He never says, "Thank you" -- he has to say, "Thann (not thank) you very much." He even wore his wraparound dark Elvis glasses to his brother's wake and funeral, along with stage makeup and an outfit as close as he could get to look like Elvis. And no, he had NOT just come from a "gig." This WAS his "gig" for the week!

The mother's signature says it all. "Protective Little Mama" is what Elvis' mother was, and I do believe that she considers herself Elvis' mom and enjoys the attention as much as he does. Give me a break!

Most entertainers are professionals and leave the showbiz behind after work. This Elvis wannabe probably does his act all day and all night -- and that's where the problem really lies. Even Dolly Parton says she goes to the grocery store and no one recognizes her.

My sister is a professional musician, but she is "Mom and wife" during the week and a "performer" on the weekends. That man should give the Elvis act a rest, do the "show" only when on stage, and get a life the rest of the time. -- CHARLESTON, S.C., READER

DEAR READER: You could be right. However, I'm not about to psychoanalyze from long distance the mother or her son who is living the part of Elvis. Although most actors can leap in and out of character at will, I have heard of some who remain in character for the duration of the role -- heaven help their families.

P.S. If Dolly Parton can go to the grocery store without anyone recognizing her, I doubt she is shopping in this country!

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