DEAR ABBY: "J.J. in South Carolina" (July 12) is dating a man whom she suspects cannot read. My grandfather is illiterate, and he's the smartest man I know.
He and Grandma have successfully operated their own business for over 40 years. Papa can read and draw blueprints. He can also complete a mathematical equation before I can punch it into my calculator. He "invents" and builds all kinds of gadgets that make life easier for us.
Papa had only a second-grade education. As the oldest of 11 children, he worked in the fields to help support his family. My grandparents, married for 51 years, are the glue that holds our family together. Papa is intelligent, self-educated through years of hard work and life experience -- as well as kind and generous.
I hope J.J. will give John a chance. At this point in his life, being able to read shouldn't be an issue. If J.J. can open her heart and let him in, it may be the best decision she ever made in her life. -- PROUD GRANDDAUGHTER IN ALABAMA
DEAR PROUD GRANDDAUGHTER: Your grandfather is a fine example of someone who developed coping skills and succeeded despite his lack of formal education. You have every right to be proud. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: I have a master's degree and a teaching credential. My husband could neither read nor write. He was always the one to fix things or called upon to help out. He could assemble anything without reading the instructions because he was smart and capable. He had many friends and never had a negative word to say about anyone. He was a wonderful husband, a devoted father, and no one ever considered him "illiterate."
J.J. should rethink her priorities, or let this man go so he can meet someone who will appreciate him for who he is. -- R.B. IN ORANGE COUNTY, CALIF.
DEAR ABBY: Illiteracy is a far larger problem in this country than most people realize. It keeps folks from enjoying life fully. Can you imagine not being able to read your child a bedtime story? What if you can't read street signs or write a check?
There are literacy councils in most communities that provide free, effective tutoring for adults who want to improve their reading and writing skills. Your local literacy council may be a solution if you want to raise the quality of life for someone you love. -- CHANGING THE WORLD ONE WORD AT A TIME
DEAR ABBY: The ability to read proficiently is not a sign of superior intelligence. I am impressed by the things my husband, daughter and many of my students CAN do. Reading may not be their strength, but they are gifted in many other ways. Reading can be beneficial, but knowing that someone loves them just the way they are is equally important. -- AN EDUCATOR IN MERIDEN, KAN.
DEAR ABBY: My mother met a man at a Parents Without Partners dance and fell in love. She has a Ph.D. in special education; he was an electrician. He was dyslexic, and no one knew how to teach him to read when he was young. He apprenticed under a master electrician to learn his trade.
Mom always thought she had to marry an intellectual equal, but after meeting my stepfather, she decided she'd rather be with someone sweet and kind who adored her. After they married, she found someone who specialized in teaching adults with dyslexia. One of my stepdad's proudest moments was the first time he didn't have to pretend he had left his reading glasses at home to order from a menu.
He and Mom were married for 15 years until his death. He had a kind heart, was devoted to Mom and they were very happy together. -- LOVED MY STEPDAD
What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS and getting along with peers and parents is in "What Every Teen Should Know." To order, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)