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Carol and I have been talking about our next train trip to Europe, and we’ve already agreed it would be Italy: Her to visit a friend in Tuscany, and me to continue my pursuit of the Best Lasagna in the World.
And so comes National Geographic Books’ Tasting Italy, A Culinary Journey, a gorgeously illustrated (no surprise there) volume that may have booksellers scratching their heads whether to display the book in their travel department or their cookbook section. (My suggestion: stack ‘em in both.)
The theme that emerges from these pages is “control.” Control, as in to make the tragic events of the sudden death of a spouse of forty years to “unhappen.” This, of course, is what we all face, waking up that first day as a widow or widower. It’s the shock, the denial, the grief, even the self-pity that we all experience in those first days of mourning.
In 1991, the car author Jerry Sittser was driving on a dark stretch of road with his wife, mother and four children was hit headon by a drunk driver. Sittser’s wife of twenty years, his mother and four-year-old daughter were killed. That night for Sittser became “The End and The Beginning,” as Sittser entitled the first chapter of A Grace Disguised, in which he recounted the accident.
In 2001 writer and humorist Calvin Trillin lost his wife Alice to heart failure. They’d been married for thirty-six years, with all their friends always telling Calvin he’d been the lucky one. Just as I knew that with Carolyn, Calvin knew it with Alice. Just as I’ve chosen to do with Carolyn, Trillin wrote about Alice.