For the better part of the day, as I’ve been organizing my desk, taking care of some obligations and running errands, a character from one of my (unwritten) screenplays has once again come alive. And I realize in again engaging with her how much this woman has in common, at least in terms of the broad outline of her life, with Lauren Bacall.*
Those who have seen The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel will understand how Tom Wilkinson‘s Graham Dashwood brought her back to life. (And those who haven’t seen the film should see it as soon as they are able.)
I called this character the “50-year Widow”. In the late 40s when she was just out of college, she fell for a man a quarter century her senior. He had lived a wild life, womanizing, drinking and otherwise carousing . . . until he met her. Of his seven wives, he was only faithful to her. They had seven years of marital bliss until the effects of his previous life finally took their toll on him.
She had been a widow since the mid-1950s. And though she grieved when he passed, when she picked herself up and took care of their children, she found she could move on, the glow of her romance, the knowledge that she loved — and had been loved — helped sustain her through life’s continuing challenges.
In talking to people who have loved and lost, I do find this idealized notion of romance has some basis in the real lives of human beings, perhaps not (entirely) in that of Wilkinson’s Graham Dashwood, but the notion does emerge.
*A major difference being that Bacall remarried when she was 37, though that union ended in divorce.