I was about a block away when I saw the couple on the bench. As I moved closer, I could see her occasionally say something to him. She would sit up and tilt forward and he would look out over the water in response. As I got closer, I could see that they were holding hands and leaning on each other while sitting on the bench. They were silent most of the time and they looked comfortable with that silence. I assumed that they were two people who had been together a long time and just fit together. They didn’t need to talk. They spoke volumes with their body language.
How do you envision a love story? It is full of passion and proclamations of love? Can a love story be told without that? Can you read a story and just know that there was so much love that time cannot diminish it?
When I read Calvin Trillin’s About Alice, I read such a book. It is an amazing tribute by the author to his wife. It is the love that Calvin has for Alice that shines forth. He does not tell you that he loved her as much as he shows you from his stories of their lives together. I found the book very touching.
The book is brief. There are less than 90 pages. My copy includes two additional stories from the book Quite Enough of Calvin Trillin.
In the book Calvin Trillin tells the story of how he met Alice and her version of the story.
“Alice would sometimes say, “You have never again been as funny as you were that night.”
“You mean I peaked in December of 1963?” I’d say, twenty or even thirty years later.
“I’m afraid so.”
Alice developed lung cancer at age 38. She survived having cancer and lived to see her two daughters grow up and get married.
“A couple years after Alice’s diagnosis, I realized that I wasn’t thinking about it all the time. Gradually, we had found ourselves back in or regular lives. …
… I was walking through the airport to catch a plane back to New York when, apropos of nothing, the possibility that things could have gone the other way in 1976 burst into my mind. I could see myself trying to tell my girls that their mother was dead, I think I literally staggered. I sat down in the nearest chair. I wasn’t in tears. I was in a condition my father would have called poleaxed. A couple people stopped to ask if I was all right. I must have said yes. After a while, the pictures faded from my mind. I walked to the gate and caught my flight to New York.”
Alice died of heart failure at the age of 63 in 2001.
Calvin Trillin is the author of 18 books. He has been on the staff of Time Magazine and The New Yorker. He has appeared on television talk shows – he was on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson over 30 times. He has been awarded the Thruber Prize for American Humor (2012) and was inducted in 2013 into the New York Writers Hall of Fame
This book was published in 2006. If you are interested, I would check your public library. It is, of course, available from Amazon.
Thanks for reading.