Lisa Grunwald Quotes
“RICHARD FEYNMAN LETTER TO ARLINE FEYNMAN, 1946 Richard Feynman (1918–1988) shared the 1965 Nobel Prize in Physics for his work on quantum electrodynamics. Unrivaled in his generation for his brilliance and innovation, he was also known for being witty, warm, and unconventional. Those last three qualities were particularly evident in this letter, which he wrote to his wife Arline nearly two years after her death from tuberculosis. Feynman and Arline had been high school sweethearts and married in their twenties. Feynman’s second marriage, in 1952, ended in divorce two years later. His third marriage, in 1960, lasted until his death. D’Arline, I adore you, sweetheart. I know how much you like to hear that—but I don’t only write it because you like it—I write it because it makes me warm all over inside to write it to you. It is such a terribly long time since I last wrote to you—almost two years but I know you’ll excuse me because you understand how I am, stubborn and realistic; & I thought there was no sense to writing. But now I know my darling wife that it is right to do what I have delayed in doing, and that I have done so much in the past. I want to tell you I love you. I want to love you. I always will love you. I find it hard to understand in my mind what it means to love you after you are dead—but I still want to comfort and take care of you—and I want you to love me and care for me. I want to have problems to discuss with you—I want to do little projects with you. I never thought until just now that we can do that together. What should we do. We started to learn to make clothes together—or learn Chinese—or getting a movie projector. Can’t I do something now. No. I am alone without you and you were the “idea-woman” and general instigator of all our wild adventures. When you were sick you worried because you could not give me something that you wanted to & thought I needed. You needn’t have worried. Just as I told you then there was no real need because I loved you in so many ways so much. And now it is clearly even more true—you can give me nothing now yet I love you so that you stand in my way of loving anyone else—but I want you to stand there. You, dead, are so much better than anyone else alive. I know you will assure me that I am foolish & that you want me to have full happiness & don’t want to be in my way. I’ll bet you are surprised that I don’t even have a girl friend (except you, sweetheart) after two years. But you can’t help it, darling, nor can I—I don’t understand it, for I have met many girls & very nice ones and I don’t want to remain alone—but in two or three meetings they all seem ashes. You only are left to me. You are real. My darling wife, I do adore you. I love my wife. My wife is dead. Rich. P.S. Please excuse my not mailing this—but I don’t know your new address.”
“OLD JOKE Sadie and Moishe go to see a lawyer. “What can I do for you, folks?” Moishe: “We want a divorce.” “Well, this is very odd. I mean, um, how old are you folks?” “I’m ninety-three,” Moishe says. “Wife’s ninety-one. We’ve been married sixty-seven years.” “And you mean to tell me, after sixty-seven years of marriage, at your ages, you want a divorce?? Why now??” “We wanted to wait ’til the kids were dead.”
“Happiness,” I say, “is a cigarette and a desk to smoke it at.” He grins and offers the pack to me, but I shake my head. “Keep talking,” he says. “Some people think there’s a gene for it,” I say. “A happiness set point. Like in weight. Some people think it’s friendship. Aristotle thought it was virtue. No one has a different definition of anger, or sadness, or envy. But happiness is—it’s—a shimmer. It’s a note. Trying to describe it is like trying to describe music. Or color. Or taste. It’s reaching your toes down and finding the cool part of the sheets. It’s hearing the song you were trying to remember. It’s fresh cheesecake and a cup of coffee. Breast-feeding. Victory. Hope. It’s knowing exactly what you’re supposed to do. Love. Being loved. Falling in love. Making things. Feeling safe. Knowing exactly what you’re supposed to do—”
- Born: in New York City, The United States.
- Description: Lisa Grunwald is the author of the novels Time After Time, The Irresistible Henry House, Whatever Makes You Happy, New Year's Eve, The Theory of Everything, and Summer. Along with her husband, Reuters editor-in-chief Stephen J. Adler, she edited the bestselling anthologies The Marriage Book, Women's Letters and Letters of the Century. Grunwald is a former contributing editor to Life and a former features editor of Esquire.
Photo courtesy of author website.