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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I am a 62-year-old widow, just retired from my teaching job. I am seeing a 69-year-old widower. At first I felt fortunate to have found someone so kind, gentle and honest. He talks of marriage, but there is always something to delay it. First he needed foot surgery, then he had a respiratory problem, then heart problems. He claims he wants to marry me, but there always seems to be something standing in the way.

Mind you, I am not pressuring him. As a matter of fact, I'm having second thoughts about it myself. Of course, we'd have a prenuptial agreement, but why should I marry him to be his nurse in his old age? He's a lousy lover, and he as much as told me he doesn't care for sex. He's financially secure, but so am I. He has a fine home, but so have I.

We've gone together for two years and have had some lovely trips. I would appreciate your opinion, Abby. -- MUTUALLY COMPATIBLE

DEAR COMPATIBLE: Why marry? Why don't you two compatible people just shake hands and continue to be close friends?

DEAR ABBY: I was so infuriated by the letter from the woman (I won't call her a lady) who couldn't stand having workmen using her bathroom facilities, that I had to cool off for a couple of weeks before I could even respond.

My husband is a carpenter. His work clothes may be stained (they get that way in his business), but they are clean. He showers every night to wash off the dirt -- sometimes filth -- he gets while he works.

One cannot be stupid and be a good carpenter, plumber or electrician. If he's self-employed, as my husband is, he must also be a good businessman. He works hard without such benefits as company-provided health insurance, paid vacations and pension plans. If he's injured on the job, we'd better have money in the bank to live on because the state doesn't have workmen's compensation for us. And if business is slow, he can't file for unemployment. These are some of the reasons why good carpenters, cabinetmakers, plumbers, etc., are becoming an endangered species.

People like her are usually very grateful to have a workman show up when they have a problem -- sometimes in the bathroom she's so stingy with. Maybe somebody should remind her that Jesus was a carpenter. Would she begrudge him the use of her facilities? -- FURIOUS IN FORT WAYNE

DEAR FURIOUS: Well said, lady. Very well said.

CONFIDENTIAL TO G.F.F. IN DAYTON, OHIO: Your friend who claims to be a direct descendant of either Orville or Wilbur Wright is wrong: Both Wright brothers were bachelors.

Abby's family recipes are included in her cookbooklet. Send a long, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Cookbooklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054. (Postage is included.)

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