DEAR ABBY: I began dating "John," a few months ago. We are in our 60s and went to the same high school.
John is a good and decent man. He says he is in love with me and wants to marry me. There's just one problem: John can't read. He has never admitted it, but several things have happened that indicate it.
I don't want to hurt him, but this has turned into a big problem for me. I just cannot believe that this could have continued for such a long time. I have a master's degree. I'm not hung up on degrees, but I at least expected to be with someone who was literate. Can you advise me? -- J.J. IN SOUTH CAROLINA
DEAR J.J.: Considering how well John has been able to manage all these years without having learned to read, it shouldn't come as any surprise to you that many illiterate people develop clever coping skills to hide their problem. There is help for your friend -- if he is willing to admit he needs it. John may be dyslexic or have another learning disability. But there are special classes for adults in his situation. Many libraries offer literacy classes for adults.
Granted, there are disadvantages to not knowing how to read, chief among them that it prevents someone from enjoying my column. But what you must decide is whether you can love a man who is obviously street smart rather than formally educated. It doesn't have to be a cause for rejection unless you choose to make it one.
DEAR ABBY: After 32 mostly wonderful years of marriage, I lost my husband. "Arthur" had been having serious health problems for the last three years. He couldn't work and was unhappy and needy.
My first reaction after his death was, "I'm free! I can do what I want." (I had never realized I felt this way.)
Clearing out my husband's stuff and the junk he kept was exhilarating. I feel good because my house is orderly. I know of no one who has ever had this reaction. Why do I feel guilty? How can I heal? Losing a mate should be devastating. A clean house should be unimportant. -- ALONE BUT HAPPY IN CANADA
DEAR ALONE BUT HAPPY: You'll start healing as soon as you quit flogging yourself for not feeling awful. Caring for an unhappy, needy and ailing spouse for three years is physically exhausting and emotionally draining. And while many widows and widowers would not broadcast these sentiments, your feelings are not unusual. You did everything you could for your husband during his illness, and his death freed you of those demands. So enjoy your house, enjoy your life and stop blaming yourself for having a sense of relief. In time you may experience a sense of loss, but not necessarily.
DEAR ABBY: I have caller I.D. on my telephone. A friend jumped on me the other day because he knows that I knew who was calling, and I still answered, "Hello?" rather than saying, "Hi, Steve." Did I do something rude? And what is the proper greeting? -- CRITICIZED IN CONCORD, CALIF.
DEAR CRITICIZED: Hello? Your friend Steve must have been having a bad day and took it out on you because either greeting is acceptable -- and the way you answered your phone is the way it is traditionally done. You were most definitely not rude.
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