Dear Margo: A More and More Frequent Dilemma

Margo Howard’s advice

A More and More Frequent Dilemma

Dear Margo: I’m not writing for advice; I am writing for validation. I think I know in my heart what is moral and ethical, but I need a neutral, mature person to tell me whether I’m right or wrong. This is something I have not yet discussed with friends.

The situation is this: My husband has had Alzheimer’s for, we think, 12 years. He was being cared for at home with an aide until a year ago, when it became too much for me and he went into a care residence. He had by then stopped speaking, and his response to anything was a blank stare. He no longer knew who I was. For several months, I saw a counselor to come to terms with the loss of my husband as I had known him and my marriage.

Here is what I would like your opinion about: Do you think it proper for me to be in a romantic relationship with a widower? We have become very attached to each other, and I in no way feel like I am cheating. My husband is not (and cannot be) aware of what, I guess, is technically an infidelity. Where do you weigh in on this question? — Living My Life

Dear Liv: Sadly, yours is becoming an increasingly frequent question. I’ve dealt with this before and, in fact, have come to think of the issue as “Alzheimer’s Dating.” My position is yours. You are hurting no one. Your husband is in no way functioning as a spouse, and while his body is here, his mind is gone, and that, to me, is the essence of a human being. I have never believed in people sacrificing themselves on the altar of hopeless causes, as it were. You are well, you are living a life, and I hope you find companionship and joy with your close friend. — Margo, forwardly

Chapter and Verse on E-Books Versus Book-Books

Dear Margo: This is out of sheer curiosity, no problem to be solved, but in this age of e-books, do you read bound books or use an electronic device? I am in a “mixed marriage.” My husband likes old-fashioned book-books, and I prefer the Kindle. I don’t know why he doesn’t want to get with the program, and he doesn’t know how I can enjoy a book that isn’t printed on paper and doesn’t have heft. — Ms. Modernity

Dear Ms.: I wonder whether we’re married to the same man. Or maybe the issue actually does break down into men and women. (The few studies I’ve seen say more women read on e-book devices such as Kindle and Nook, while more men read on a tablet. I could find no mention of “book-books.”)

I love my Kindle for all the reasons you probably do. You can throw it in your purse (most men don’t have purses) and never be without something to read should you wind up in a line, riding a bus or waiting for a friend. Taking a trip with 13 pounds of books does not interest me, and I can live without “heft.” I also find an e-reader encourages me to read more. (A good review and I’m there, in the instant gratification kind of way.) I did read a wonderful Letter to the Editor of The New York Times Book Review that I will share with you:

“Oliver Sachs does not want to read books on a Kindle, Nook or iPad, since he might drop the device in the bath. Instead, he wants a large-print book that is ‘a real book made of paper’ with, apparently, the magical ability to stay dry when submerged. — Martin Flicker, Irvine, Calif.” — Margo, electronically

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Dear Margo is written by Margo Howard, Ann Landers’ daughter. All letters must be sent via the online form at Due to a high volume of e-mail, not all letters will be answered.


Every Thursday and Friday, you can find “Dear Margo” and her latest words of wisdom on wowOwow

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70 Responses so far.

  1. avatar Constance Plank says:


    Yes, go for it. Your husband is essentially dead. What’s left is his body. That’s a really brutal form of death for his loved ones. There’s a difference between the body and the soul. His soul is gone- his body is not.


    I love traditional books, and I have many kindles. (I still have 16 book-shelves jam-packed full of books. I tend to accumulate books I will read again on the kindle. I buy a lot of used books very cheaply.

    (And the last time I checked, I am a woman.)

    I think it all boils down to personal choice versus being a gender issue. However, having stepped accidentally on my purse and broken Kindle #1, and then dropping Kindle #2 while stressed out at the Emergency Vet, I think that my current Kindle is better used in the home, and out of emergency situations. Or on a trip.


    Constance in the Sierra Foothills of CA

    • avatar Commoner says:

      Ah, finally. Week after week I scour the comments looking for the post second only to Margo’s. Week after week I asked myself, “whither Constance? Why the silence from the Sierra Foothills?” I’ve been reading Margo for years, and over time I came to very much enjoy your replies to her posts. I’ve wondered lately why you’re posting less these days, and I’m glad to see your comment here today.

    • avatar Carib Island Girl says:

      Agree with your take on LW1,

      Kindle, I got one, loved it as did the hubs, but for whatever reason we can’t figure out, it just died. I don’t want something that The nearest we can figure is that he put a book on it. REALLY? This will kill it? My mom is one her third one. Not worth it.

      • avatar butterfly55 says:

        My husband’s Kindle died (actually went into cardiac arrest) right after we got it, I took it to store, fellow held his finger on power button for about a minute and it came back to life.  One point for buying in store instead of on-line.

      • avatar md2012 says:

        How about sending me your “dead” kindles. I would bet I can have them up and running in about 1 minute.

        I am male and love my kindle, but I am not getting rid of real books I already own.

  2. avatar enna31789 says:

    Books… I love books! And I have to say, for me personally, as long as a recent kindle book costs me as much as the “real one”, I’d rather go for the real one. I love my book shelf and all the books I have accumulated over time. Guess I am a bit of a show off!
    However, I do very much get the point of not wanting to travel with a 5 pound book, and have friends that for their daily commute swear by their kindles. And ever since the first smart phone reached my household I do have a kindle app – waiting at the doctors has never been so pleasant – plus I finally take the time to read all the classics I have been meaning to read for ages!

    So far for my first post 🙂

    Kind regards

  3. avatar Pinky35 says:

    I’ve been wanting an e-reader but I still purchase and read real book-books, simply because I’m to cheap to spend the money. Plus, I love the feel of a real book-book in my hand. I love turning pages. Sure, I read a lot online. I would probably still love reading if I had a Kindle or Nook. But, in the end, I think it will take me a while to want to purchase one. Until then, I plan on buying book-books because someone needs to keep publishers in business. 🙂

    • avatar martina says:

      Pinky35, I was the same way and was fortunate to win one in our company’s Christmas raffle and I really like it but it has it’s drawbacks. You can’t flip back and forth through pages and you have to worry about running out of battery life. As for keeping the publishers in business, I wouldn’t worry about that with some of the prices they charge for e-books which are often just a couple of dollars less than they charge for print books. Sometimes it’s cheaper to go to the used bookstore and buy the print version rather than the e-version. Hope you are as lucky as I am and win one somewhere.

      • avatar butterfly55 says:

        You can flip back and forth, you do it electronically.  It is according to the model how you change the pages, my Nook does it by just moving your finger over the page, my husband’s Kindle requires pushing a button, his is an older model.

  4. avatar Lila says:

    For LW1, read the story of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s husband, a situation in reverse of yours.

    Her husband of 55 years had to be placed in a home, where he – having forgotten who his wife was – fell in love with another patient, and would sit happily on a porch with his new love. Justice O’Connor would visit with them both and was happy to see him happy. In a strange way, contentment all around. “Old love,” the NYT called it. “Young love is about wanting to be happy,” says psychologist Mary Pipher. “Old love is about wanting someone else to be happy.”

  5. avatar kparke says:

    I am a woman, and I ONLY read “book-books.” An electronic device doesn’t feel like a book, it doesn’t separate me from the world like a book, and it’s too much like the internet — too easy to get distracted, too easy to wander onto some little side road. I want to lose myself in a book when I read — and that journey requires a book-book. My favorite decoration in a room is a bookcase filled and overfilled with mismatched, jumbled, “lived with” books. I may someday acquiesce to yet another small screen for convenience when traveling (although, since I suffer from motion sickness, probably not!), but that would be the ONLY time I could imagine making that choice. Book-books rule!

  6. avatar Redwine says:

    Responding to Living My Life. The first letter. My heart is aching for you and your situation. Please do not judge me when I tell you that I cannot imagine ever denying the man I love and who has provided for me over the years because he no longer recognizes me.

    I am aware that dementia reduces people to a child-like state. Is there an appropriate time to dismiss this condition?

    Regarding ebooks . The Kindle Paper white is amazing and seriously awesome. I have both the original Kindle and the paper white. If you love to read, get an e reader and get used to it. Easy to read, browse and buy books. The paper white is worth the investment.

    Husband and I both love sharing and reading. Paper White is back-lit and scrolls by touch! If you have a smartphone, you’ll know. If not, it is easy to learn.

  7. avatar nanaimo12 says:

    To Living My Life: I’m so sorry for the loss of your husband. My grandfather went the same route – Alzheimer’s robbed him of everything that made him a person, and left a shell behind. You have ensured that your husband is well-tended; however, through no fault of his own he is no longer capable of upholding his side of the marriage. You have every right to obtain the love and comfort from another source – it does not diminish the love you still retain for your husband.

    Re the e-book / hard copy debate: it’s not a male-female issue, but a matter of preference. I’m a female, and I have both an e-reader (Sony) and hard-copy books. The e-reader carries more books anywhere you’re going and the case I purchased for it has a reading light to extend its versatility. However, as a person who re-reads books often I find it much easier to skip to my favourite parts with a hard copy book. Hard copies don’t have to be recharged; as well, there is just something more satisfying sometimes about holding a “real” book. On the other hand, being able to adjust the print size with the e-reader is VERY handy.

    Each type of book has its place. Something that does irk me, though – even though an electronic version has to be created to produce the print versions, often the e-book version has errors that are not in the print version and are sloppily formatted to boot. In addition, too many times the cover art that the publisher uses to advertise the e-book is not included with the e-book. The lesser price does not warrant this disrespectful and unprofessional presentation.

  8. avatar duranimal says:

    Re: dropping the Kindle/iPad in the bath, I think the point is if you get it wet you’re out potentially several hundred bucks, vs. simply buying a new copy of a book.

    • avatar Jennifer juniper says:

      But there are lots of waterproof covers to get for kindles and the like – whereas you can’t turn pages of a book if it’s covered up.

    • avatar Messy ONE says:

      That’s why you put it in a heavy zipper plastic bag before you read it in the tub. If you routinely drop things in the tup when you’re bathing, I would suggest showers.

      • avatar duranimal says:

        Well actually all it would take is dropping it in the tub just once to ruin it, and stuff happens. But I didn’t know they made waterproof covers, good idea.

  9. avatar Deborah Key says:

    I have an e-reader but I still prefer books. Its the way it fits in my hands. I don’t mind the e-reader but its for trips, not every-day use.

  10. avatar Brooke Schubert says:

    LW#1-I’m terribly sorry for the loss of your husband.  The man you knew and loved is gone and while his body might still be here, I see no problem with finding love and comfort elsewhere.

    LW#2-I  still like reading real books, but it’s impossible to ignore the convenience of an iPad.  I have the kindle, iBook and Overdrive apps on mine, and I can check ebooks out of the library and return them without having to leave my house.  I can also take hundreds of books with me on vacation or an airplane all on a single little tablet.  Paper books will always have a special place, but I do like reading on my iPad.

  11. avatar judgingamy says:

    My mom loves her nook. My husband doesn’t really read but wishes I would use my Nook instead of having 1,000 books scattered around the house. However, I just can’t get into e-books. Yes, it’s convenient as far as ordering books as opposed to getting in the car and driving to the store, and yes it’s nice to have one small item instead of multiple books. But I like to be able to just flip open the book and read. With an E-book, you have to turn it on and wait while it powers up. You have to hit a button to flip the page and that takes several seconds. If you want to refer back to earlier in the book, it can be a pain to get there. To me, the pros far outweigh the cons. Also, at least at my library, the selection of electronic books is just terrible, and it takes a few minutes and a lot of frustration to get them uploaded.

    So, if I was going on a long trip, then for the sake of packing lightly, I might just take my Nook, but for day to day reading, I much prefer a regular book.

    • avatar md2012 says:

      You said: “With an E-book, you have to turn it on and wait while it powers up.”
      Takes about 2 seconds to power up my 1st generation Kindle, I can’t imagine they have slowed them down.

      You said: “You have to hit a button to flip the page and that takes several seconds.”
      Takes about 1/2 second, faster than you can flip a books page.

      • avatar butterfly55 says:

        You are funny, if you get the new Nook like I have you just touch it and it flips the page, powers up at the push of the button, and notifies me of email if I wish.  None of which a book will do.  I like both but I can’t imagine not having ebooks anymore.

  12. avatar Belinda Joy says:

    Letter #2 – I’m in the Kindle when on trips and paper books when at home, camp. 🙂

    Letter #1 – You know Margo….you’re right, I guess this is a topic that is becoming an increasing subject for many. This is the way I look at it.

    I think it depends on what your marriage vows were. Did you vow to love, honor and support for richer or poorer, in good health or bad? IF you did and you choose to move on and date ….what does that say about you and your commitment?

    So if he had surgery for a broken leg, you would stay? If he could still function sexually you would stay? If he lost his eyesight and hearing, what then? But this….one of the most debilitating conditions that can overtake a human being, Alzheimer’s… that’s your breaking point?

    He is still in there. As hard as it may be to see him in this condition, he is still inside that body. If you hold his hand, no matter how he doesn’t respond, he knows you are there.

    I say if you want to embark on a new relationship, have at it. But do so knowing you are cheating. You are betraying your vows to him of commitment. The world is filled with men and women that are in your shoes that made a different choice. They chose to be selfless and remain faithful to their spouses.

    But you…..not so much. So you go off and have your romantic dinners, have your sex, have your kisses, while your husband sits alone in a cold, sterile facility alone.

    Like you said, he is now not the man you used to know. So clearly that gives you license to stray. It’s too bad in today’s world vows are nothing more than words. They have no true meaning.

    • avatar luna midden says:

      The LW NEVER said she has abandoned her husband.. she might be going to that nursing home and visiting him. That said, have you had the experience of a close relative having the final stages of Alzheimers? My MIL had it, but, I believe, thankfully died of something else, before it became to severe. Still, her children would be fustrated, trying to get her to remember things, to prove she didn’t have it, did not want to admit she could not take care of herself. I was an RN on a geriatric floor-many alzheimer and senile dementia patients. Some, like the LW said, are NOT THERE AT ALL. Some, are living in the past, 20,30 50 years ago. Some, even worse, get violent. I would see Men, in there 80s, severe symptoms, violent outbursts, and they were still home, with their wives, who are tiny women. Coming to the hospitals, that is when they would get ‘placed’. FOR BETTER FOR WORSE-Alztheimers, Senile Dementia is on the top of the WORST LIST and it does not mean you do not love your spouse any longer.. and by putting your spouse in a GOOD NURSING HOME is for the better.. a nursing home that deals with Alzheimers.. not all NHs are cold and sterile. Humans are not meant to be without human contact, not to be loved, and that INCLUDES the spouses of the patients… I have seen pastors write in on this subject and give the spouses the okay on ‘dating’..  and I hope if I am ever that patient in the NH=I give my husband the ok to find someone who will care for him. 

      • avatar PortaPetey says:

        Ah, here we are. I read several advice columns weekly and have become familiar with many, many regular commenters, and few or any are so consistently awful as good ole Belinda Joy. What a mean-spirited, hateful person she is, week after week. she has absolutely no empathy for her fellow human being, or indeed for herself. She is absolutely blind to her own vile nature.

        But, so entertaining!

        • avatar judgingamy says:

          Haha. Belinda, do you really believe these things you post, or are you just trying to see if you can get more replies than anyone else?

      • avatar Belinda Joy says:

        luna midden, what can I say?

        The world is filled with people that think as you do on this subject. Beyond cancer, Alzheimer’s (IMO) is a horrible condition. There are plenty of perfectly good facilities all over America that offer up the best care they can for these patients. And just as I said, there are millions of spouses that visit their loved ones and sit by their side offering comfort to a loved one that doesn’t even notice them anymore. But they married for “in sickness and in health” so they selfless commit to love their spouse t the end.

        This letter writer however is literally saying she because her husband is no longer responsive and is but a mere shell of who he once was, she craves romance and wants to date. She can’t wait until her husband passes, she wants it now. This is no different than a man that says he cheated on his wife, but that it was only physical, his wife still holds his heart. That is crap.

        I’m not wrong in how I view this, nor are you. We simply look at marriage, vows, commitment and what does and does not constitute “cheating” differently. I see this letter writer as a cheater. I would also say the world is filled with men and women that have made vows within the Catholic church and others, that go their entire lives not dating, having sex or being romanced. It is possible to make a vow and stick to it, this letter writer however just chooses not to. And she has every right to not do so, but call it what it is, cheating.

      • avatar Lynde says:

        Belinda Joy is a malignant troll. Her opinions always seem to be the most painful to someone in a genuine dilemma. She pretends to be of high moral character but is the exact opposite.

        • avatar R Scott says:

          Lynde – that’s actually insulsting to real trolls. I prefer to think of BJ as a basement bound-sociopathic-pathological-lyer with very few options for real human contact even though she once passed herself off as an HR Director. She is fun to read though in that train wreck kind of way.

    • avatar mac13 says:

      Belinda, how sad that you live inside a box. How much sadder that you think others should also.

    • avatar bamabob says:

      Belinda never fails to disappoint. What a cruel thing to say to this poor woman. She has honored her vows. She never vowed to give up her own life when her husband’s life was over. The man she married was gone; only the shell remains.

      I have to say, if I was married to Belinda I would pray for Alzheimer’s if it meant blotting such a heartless shrew from my memory forever.

      • avatar butterfly55 says:

        I was going to say Belinda has no understanding of Alzheimers but I think I will stop with Belinda has no understanding.

        • avatar mmht says:

          Arguing with Belinda is like talking to a brick wall. She’s rigid and won’t change her mind no matter what. This isn’t a discussion forum for her, its simply for her to pass judgement on others. Don’t worry about commenting on her posts b/c she doesn’t care what you or anyone else has to say. This is really just someplace for her to make her opinions known. If that is what she needs in life then just let her have it.

          • avatar Hellster says:

            Belinda never disappoints. But I must admit, it used to be more entertaining when Briana Baran was still alive. Those two would have running battles thousands of words long.

            Arguing with Belinda is like having a battle of wits with an unarmed opponent. Her lack of logic is reflected in phrases like this, “no matter how he doesn’t respond”–you see: he doesn’t respond this way? No, he doesn’t respond that way. He doesn’t respond by pissing himself? No, he doesn’t respond by pulling his hair out. But no matter how he doesn’t respond, he doesn’t respond.

            It’s also amazing that she is evidently blessed with the next generation in x-ray vision, “Functional-MRI-vision.” She knows exactly what is going on “deep down” in the brain of a dementia patient. Well, why should that surprise us? She is privy to the secrets of God Almighty; what is the brain of an Alzheimer’s patient once you’ve read the mind of God!?

            Belinda Joy is an ass of the first water. She is the Dimwitted Doyenne, the Sultana of Stupidity, as well as the Monarch of Mean, the Baroness of Bile, and the Vicountess of Venom. She has got to be the saddest person to post here; no one who is happy could be so hurtful.

    • avatar BeanCounter says:

      Belinda, you’re a trannie, right?  You’re just posting this to get attention, I presume?  Much like you wear obnoxious lipstick and garish trannie dresses to get attention as well?   lol.

      • avatar mmht says:

        That’s just mean, nasty, and completely inappropriate BeanCounter. You nor anyone else on here may like Belinda’s comments but that does NOT mean you have a right to lodge an unfounded personal attack on her. If you dislike what she says and disagree with her then say so and leave it at that. Grow up!

      • avatar Emma says:

        Wow. I’ve been a regular reader of Dear Margo here for a couple of years, I think, and have finally created an account just to respond to this. Attempting to insult a person by suggesting she is a transgender woman is cruel to transgender people for the same reason that attempting to insult a person by calling him a f** is cruel to gay people. It makes transgender and gay people feel hated and, in some cases, worthless and fearful, too. Why would you want to make someone, who hasn’t done anything to you, feel like that? Also, “trannie” is no longer – if it ever was – a generally acceptable abbreviation for “transgender person.” I’m actually hoping maybe your WoW account was hijacked, BeanCounter, because this doesn’t even sound like you. 🙁

    • avatar fallinginplace says:

      Belinda Joy is, as always, consistently judgmental, holier than thou, and in the immortal words of the Bard, “a boil, a plague-sore, an embossed carbuncle long-tongu’d babbling gossip.”

  13. avatar JCF4612 says:

    LW1) My condolences on the loss off your husband that you already have witnessed for more than a decade. Be cautious, though, about flaunting your happiness with new-found companionship. Not everyone understands, and you could be in for some sharp jabs from those who don’t.

    LW2) Read letter one and then tell me if your curiosity concern matters a whit. Be thankful both you and your husband still know a book when you see one.      

  14. avatar Cindy M says:

    L #2: I’m a woman and prefer old-fashioned books. 🙂 There is no “heft” involved usually, as I prefer books in the 220-page range and paperback.

    It would be awkward, for me, to handle a Kindle. It’s rigid, doesn’t flex, it’s staring at yet another screen. Ugh!

    To each their own, but I will always love BOOKS. And I’m 47 years old.

    In fact, I collect vintage Gothic paperbacks; have at least 300. Have THOSE via Kindle? Heck, the gorgeous cover art on those BOOKS is half the deal! 😉

  15. avatar Jan Hall says:

    L#1 – My mother was the one with Alzheimer’s, and once she moved to a nursing home, she’s the one who I’d see holding hands and snuggling with a male patient. I hope it made her feel safe and loved.

    Life is short, your husband is gone, so if you’ve found love again, let nothing stand in your way.

    L#2 – I also still like my books, but since I travel a lot, I have learned to love my Kindle. However, in bed it’s a real book.

    • avatar butterfly55 says:

      Funny, in bed I love my Nook because of the back light I don’t need to leave another light on, reminds me of when I was a kid and got under the covers with a book and a flashlight!  But there are days when a book feels nice.

  16. avatar Cindy M says:

    L #1: I debated answering, as this hits close to home. Chances are (unfortunately) I will face this dilemma, maybe even within 15 years’ time; my husband is disabled with a brain injury. He’s currently very functional (thanks to an implanted neurological device)…but that could (likely will) change.

    **Speaking only for myself**, I am intending to remain his until death (physical) do us part. My husband was a young man when injured; so much was taken from him. He is a proverbial “Job.” Even if his mind is someday gone, I’m still his wife and I don’t intend to take myself from him. Even if his mind would be gone, mine won’t be; I couldn’t take myself from him.

    • avatar Lynde says:

      That’s OK too. But, how do you feel about the moral choice? If I was in the condition of the LWs husband, I would like to think my husband had cared for me but, I wouldn’t want to  deny him a chance of happiness. That said, I spent 12 yrs. of my nursing career on a Alzheimer’s unit. That letter writer probably spent many years as caregiver to her husband before he reached his current condition.

  17. avatar Artemesia says:

    I love real books. But I also travel a lot. I spent 3 mos in Europe not long ago and probably took 100 books out of my hometown library on my Nook. It would cost at least $20 to buy a paperback in English when traveling and the selection is limited. I thus saved $2000 by being able to download books from the library for free. (of course I would just do without or have to lug a suitcase full of books as we did in our past travels, were it not for the Kindle and Nook. ) Now that the Kindle has finally come to the party and allows library downloads, it too can be a great travel companion.

    My father lived 15 years with an AD diagnosis and of course no one is ever diagnosed in the early stages so he suffered from it a lot longer. My mother cared for him at home until he was no longer able to walk and he lived on in a nursing home for nearly 5 years. She was not interested in a new romance — as she told me, I was willing to nurse your father through this because we have been married a lifetime and I love him and owe it to him to be there — but I am not nursing some other old man. When this is done, I am done. I understood and respected that but I would also have respected her choice to have companionship if she had chosen that. I had a colleague whose children deeply resented their father dating when there mother had AD; he saw to her gentle kind care — but he lived his life. I think we are our brains — our minds — when that is gone, we are gone. We owe our partners kindness but not at that point faithfulness.

  18. avatar mmht says:

    LW#1: I think Margo said it perfectly.

    LW#2: I LOVE to read, my husband does not. I also LOVE my Nook for the same reasons Margo listed for her Kindle. However, in the almost 2 years I have had my Nook, I have bought a total of 4 books for it (b/c someone gave me a gift card), the rest I borrow from the library. If its a book I really truly love and know I’ll be reading it over and over and over again, I go out and buy it, as in the actual book. With the way technology is going, I know that sooner or later my Nook and all those books I stored on it will be obsolete. A hard copy though, will never go away (unless I physically lose it which would just totally suck!).

  19. avatar AOT says:

    Yeahhhh…. since I read about that Scandinavian woman whose Kindle account was accidentally blocked and who lost access to all her Amazon e-books, I’ve become leery of the idea. Someone gets to remove books from my library at their discretion? Way too 1984 for me.

    • avatar sc72 says:

      me too! that story was frightening. I might feel differently if you could download books like music files, but if I’m going to spend money on something I want it to be something I can have in my possession and not something that could be hijacked.

  20. avatar ann penn says:

    I started reading eBooks years ago on an old iPod Touch. I had apps for several sources and was not tied to one provider. Once, when I unexpectedly had to wait for over an hour, I was very glad that I had several books in my purse from which to choose and happily started one. For me, the eBooks are great. I have some vision issues and like being able to set the font, font size, screen light, etc. to my preferences.

    Now I usually use my iPhone or iPad to read. Many of the books I “buy” are free or very inexpensive to purchase; others I get on loan via my public library.

    Another reason I am purchasing fewer books in print is that so many of them are now printed on high acid paper and will yellow or crumble in a very short time. I DO purchase books I want to own, even having them electronically.

    I also love to “read” audio books, especially when working in the studio, cooking, doing household tasks, etc. web site has hundreds that can be live streamed, including some that I own in print but don’t want to sit and read or re-read.

  21. avatar flyonthewall says:

    LW#2 I am female and prefer to read a good old fashioned book. Technologies come and go and I don’t want to add to my pile of useless electronic devices by getting some sort of e-reader that will ultimately become obsolete in a sort amount of time. I have books downloaded onto my laptop, but I find that tedious and cumbersome. Give me a traditional book and I am much happier. So really, to each his or her own and give people the freedom to choose.

  22. avatar L T says:

    LW#1 — Follow your heart and your conscience. I suspect your husband would not want you to stop living your life just because he cannot participate in it anymore.

    Be prepared, though. A lot of people will feel entitled to an opinion about your situation. Often without ever having experienced being a caretaker for a loved one (spouse or otherwise) who is dying.

    But here’s the thing — no one else has ever been in your exact situation, nor will they be. Everyone will “know” what they “would do” in your situation. But the certainty goes out the window when you’re actually there, as you well know. Make your decisions based on having the most peace you can find with yourself, because you’ll never feel like you did enough, but you’ll know you did the best you could.

  23. avatar D C says:

    LW#2 — I’m picking up on Margo’s part of the response where she said something about instant gratification and as soon as she hears/reads a good review, the book is there. That may be the crux of the whole women/kindle vs men/paperback argument. A majority of women like to shop, and man of those same women are impulse buyers. I generalize because I am a woman and I hate to shop and rarely impulse buy, unless it’s fabric, but that’s a different discussion. Anyway… it may all boil down to shopping.

  24. avatar flyonthewall says:

    LW#1 With your letter, I am reminded about an article that appeared last year in the Washington Post about one of its former reporters who developed Alzheimer’s and the decision his wife had to make concerning their future. She chose to move on and marry someone else, but still care for her first husband, all being one big happy family. After reading about that woman’s experience I agree fully with what Margo said in her reply to you. My father developed dementia in the final ten years of his life, but my mother could never bring herself to even look at another man. This is something that there is no one size fits all answer and you must do what is right for you. You must carefully weigh the options and look at the big picture. My heart goes out to you and I wish you all the best.

  25. avatar greatwhitenorth says:

    LW#2 I notice that no one here mentions using their local library for books. I live in a very small town and yet we have a brilliant library. If the book I want isn’t at my library, they will gladly borrow it from another library for me and call me when it’s in. Sure, you might have to wait a week, maybe two, to get the book you want, but it’s FREE!

    • avatar mmht says:

      Lots of people mentioned getting their books and ebooks from their library.

      • avatar greatwhitenorth says:

        I apologize; I typed out my comment but then had to wait to post it. In the meantime a number of people posted about getting their books at libraries. I will be more careful next time.

        • avatar butterfly55 says:

          My husband lovess getting his Kindle books from the library, if he had to get the actual books there he would be only going to the large print section.  By going on line he can get any book and make the print large himself!

  26. avatar bobkat says:

    LW1: Your marriage is over, because the man you married is gone. Only the shell is still ‘living’, if you can call it that. I vote for that it’s okay to have a romantic relationship for the spouse of someone with advanced Alzheimer’s. LW2: I agree with your husband. There’s nothing like an actual book. Also, reading stuff on a computer screen hurts my eyes after a while.

  27. avatar Skyblonde says:

    My only complaint is that I have thousands (yes, literally) of books at my house and probably about 100 that I love and read over and over again. I’d love to get those on my Kindle so I can read them whenever I want. but I really don’t want to have to buy them all again, especially as someone mentioned, because they really aren’t that cheap! When I got an iPod, I was able to put all of my previously purchased music (CDs, cassettes, etc.) on my computer and take them with me. The eReaders should have the same option. (Don’t ask me how, I don’t know, but it would be nice…)

    • avatar L T says:

      I’m right there with you. My husband loves books, too, but I think he’s happy that they’ve stopped taken over since I started using an e-reader.

      I’d be happy if you could just get an e-copy when you bought a new book these days. It seems like something they could do pretty easily.

  28. avatar Ghostwheel says:

    I like my tablet or kindle for some things and books for others. I like the convenience of having the tablet/kindle/nook, but it doesn’t sit nice in my hands and causes wrist strain if I am sitting in a chair at the airport. Needs a squishy hand holder on the back :). The problem with e-books is that magazines cannot be saved, so those I have to get in physical form. Sometimes I will go to read my kindle and it’s dead. Then I have to wait for it to charge. Pain in the behind. I also like the look of print on paper and I like how a book fits in my hand. And you can’t get the kindle version signed by the author. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. Why can’t people just accept that not everyone likes what they like?

  29. avatar Diane Shaw says:

    Ltr. #1 – there was an article not too long ago (Reader’s Digest?), maybe someone is familiar with it and can remember the exactness of it, but a woman’s husband had a massive stroke (I believe) and he was never the same again. She, while ensuring his interests, eventually divorced him to remarry. He was still very much part of the family, accepted by her new husband as such, and well taken care of and provided for. The first husband’s parents were very supportive of the new marriage and happy for her. She still loved him but her husband was, in effect, gone. She, too, was concerned about honoring her wedding vows. She did managed to do that, and happily so, by staying loyal to him and providing for him. Her family, her friends, her pastor all assured her she could do that while moving forward with her own life. The unconditional love provided by all was very moving.

  30. avatar avast2006 says:

    LW2: “I don’t know why he doesn’t want to get with the program,”

    Why is it important that he do so?

  31. avatar Terry Edwards says:

    Re: reading with a kindle in a tub or at the beach. My kindle is 7inch fits perfectly in a quart sized Ziploc baggie. It stays dry, clean and I can easily turn the page or any other things I need to do. I’m sure I could buy special stay dry bags but you can get Ziploc baggie any where.

  32. avatar cincyreader says:

    I also agree with Belinda regarding letter writer one. When we make a vow it doesn’t mean we just keep it as long as it is convenient to. Really a vow is meaningless under those circumstances. Life shouldn’t just be about making ourselves happy. We can find satisfaction in doing the right thing.

    • avatar mmht says:

      Here’s where I think I differ from that line of thinking, I simply don’t see what she is doing as breaking a vow. She never states that she is going to divorce her husband, she is not going visit him anymore, or that she is not going to ensure that he is taken care of to the upmost of her financial ability. She simply states that she is dating again b/c her husband is mentally, just not physically gone. This wasn’t a sudden thing that happened over night, she had been caring for him and watching him go down hill for 10 years, and she didn’t just jump into a relationship with the first guy she met, she had been going through therapy to help her deal with the loss of her husband. He is in every single way except physically gone. For all extensive purposes, she is a widow.

      I also personalize it. For me, if I were to become in that state where I was dead except physically and my husband, who had been taking care of me for years, had a chance to find someone who made him feel the way I had made him feel, I would want him to jump at that chance. The idea that he would give up on some happiness b/c physically I’m still around not only breaks my heart but also makes me feel incredibly selfish.

  33. avatar Frau Quink says:

    To Living My Life:

    Life has dealt you a bad hand for 12 very long years.
    You are most certainly entitled to take the good hand, run with it and enjoy as much as you can………

  34. avatar A R says:

    LW1: I’m not sure how I feel about this. If you vowed to love and honor til “death do us part, in sickness and health, etc.” then I can see having an internal conflict about stepping out with a widower while your husband still lives.

    My grandma and grandpa just passed away. My grandma had dementia and didn’t know who he was (or anyone else for that matter), but he stayed faithful to their vows until the end. It was important to him to do so because of the kind of fellow he was.

    If the LW is having trouble reconciling either decision, I’d suggest that she might need to spend time by herself without a man on the horizon for a bit longer. Take classes, travel with friends, start a new job, whatever. There are plenty of ways to live life to the fullest as an unattached person. If she’s been married a long time, it might even feel good to just do that.

    Having not been in her position, I wouldn’t know how I’d feel. I do know that you can get through life quite well without a man, and I’d advise that she try some other adventures and experiences before deciding.

  35. avatar WillT says:

    I’m a long-time Margo fan, but just registered so I could weigh in the paper v. electronic book debate. I love to read regardless of the medium, although I do lean more towards the e-reader. There are pros and cons to both. With a paper book, you don’t have to worry about battery life, but with an e-reader, you don’t have to worry about having an external light source at night in most cases. Most have already mentioned the benefit of traveling light with an e-reader. I have the kindle app on both my iPhone and iPad, and if I put one down I can pick up right where I left off with the other. I can bookmark pages and highlight certain parts, then jump right to them without having to flip through the pages to find them. I don’t need to worry about a breeze blowing the pages and losing my place, and my thumbs don’t get sore from holding the pages open. On the other hand, I love browsing old books in a store, and for some strange reason I enjoy the smell of an old book. Yes, I realize that sound weird. Anyhoo, each person has their preference, so let the debate continue. 🙂