I saw the film with the movie-and-lunch club from the senior hall but I had to skip the lunch in order to be at home for some scheduled warranty work on the house. That was a big mistake. It made me feel so alone not to have anyone to discuss the movie with. The dog didn’t care that I enjoyed the politics of how Lincoln pushed the amendment through and ended the Civil War, the arm twisting that went on and the unexpected warmth of Lincoln’s personality. The dog didn’t care that I was shocked to see the theater was filled almost to capacity at 11:30 on a Friday morning. The dog didn’t care that when Lincoln was pronounced dead at the end of the movie I had a flash-back to Don’s last day on earth and I had to fight back the tears. And the darn dog didn’t care that I will never look at another penny again without thinking of Lincoln’s passion for and skill at ending slavery.
It’s been a busy week----several appointments, shopping, the movie and lunch with my in-laws. At lunch I was telling my sister-in-law that trying to find and build new friendships is now my biggest challenge in widowhood. In truth I’m very lucky in that regard. I don’t have any of the more common widowhood challenges: financial hardship, being helpless about maintenance issues, dealing with the grief of children, or clinical depression. And I haven’t dealt with feelings of guilt since the first few months---the ‘shoulda, coulda, and woulda’ syndrome that applies to so many life-altering events. In the Lincoln movie they brought out the fact that Mary Lincoln suffered a great deal from feelings of guilt over the death of one of their four sons. Throw in her migraines, chronic depression and possible bi-polar disorder you have a woman whose life was not all it shoulda, coulda, woulda been had fate dealt her a fairer hand. Even so, she lived an extraordinary life during extraordinary times.
Mary Lincoln became a widow in 1865 and it took five years of her lobbying Congress before they granted her (by a narrow margin) a life pension---the same as the widows of Civil War soldiers had been getting since 1861 which she felt she deserved, her husband being the “fallen commander”---in her view. I find it mind-boggling that it took so long for Congress to agree. She was preceded in death by her husband and three sons and in widowhood she even spent time in an asylum for her erratic behavior. All this wasn’t brought out in the movie, of course, but if you’re history or political science buff and you go see the movie keep it in mind. Lincoln won’t disappoint you, but then I say that about all of Steven Spielberg’s movies. I don’t think he knows how to make a mediocre film. ©Interview with James Spader on Lobbying for the 13th Amendment can be found here.