Margaret Made A Difference

Margaret ThatcherGrocer’s daughter, mother of twins, research chemist, lawyer, politician.  Any one of those might be enough to fill a lifetime.  So what ‘ingredient X’ fired the drive and achievements of this lady?  You see, love her or hate her, the fact is she changed the world – yes, world – during her sojourn here on earth.

Of all the coverage I heard yesterday, one sentence registered in my mind in big red capitals, something Mrs Thatcher said in an interview:  “I don’t think there will be a woman prime minister in my lifetime.”  Just six years later, she proved herself wrong.  And she held the spot for eleven-and-a-half years.  Incredibly brave, courageous and controversial.  Perhaps we should have called her “Marmite Maggie” because, as demonstrated yesterday, people still feel SO strongly and opinions remain polarised about her leadership.

“If you can dream it, you can be it”, I hear and see all the time, especially in these days of ‘The Secret’ and ‘Cosmic Ordering’ but it’s not quite that simple, is it?  Holding the vision while stepping towards the big goal doesn’t feel all fluffy and the path isn’t strewn with rose petals but that innate compass and desire will enable navigation around the roadblocks.

All great leaders have tremendous courage and self-belief.  Privately they must sometimes feel vulnerable and lonely.  Imagine having to deal with the potential loss of your child – remember Mark Thatcher was lost in the desert for several days? – and yet still remain strong enough to lead the country?  To carry on when the world’s focused not on your politics, but rather on personal pain that accompanies divorce within the family.  Not for the fainthearted, for sure.

Yesterday, I heard Mrs Thatcher say how she would never forget the pain of realising those she trusted had turned against her and that the one thing she’d take with her to her desert island would be “a photograph of the children”.   Holding her together, “like a golden thread running through everything” was her dearly-loved Dennis, who quietly healed wounds and shored up vulnerabilities hidden from prying eyes.  It wasn’t ever easy but belief carried her through.

Recently I was set the challenge of whom I’d invite to my table of 12 for dinner.  It could be anyone, here or from history.  Who would you most like to dine with and why?  Actually, it’s not as easy as you think to narrow it down but why not have a go, your choices might surprise you?  Mine did.  I discovered something about myself.  Each of my guests had maverick tendencies, that ‘ingredient X’ which set them apart and fired them up to be seen, to go off at a tangent and to be strong enough to push the boundaries and make a real difference.

Maggie wasn’t on my list and I didn’t agree with all her decisions but, heck, she was brave and strong in a way I’m not sure I could be.  I Loss of Motheradmire that in her.

Let’s not forget, either, that Carol and Mark have lost their mother and, however complex our relationship with our parents may be,
the loss of a mother or father leaves a painful void it’s impossible to understand by anyone lucky enough not yet to have visited that place.  I’ll close by sending them healing thoughts.

  • Clara

    What a lovely article; the thing that has struck me during the past few weeks is how people have criticized Mrs Thatcher and her children but have not acknowledged the fact that the twins have lost their mother – no matter how rich or poor one is, or how complex one’s relationship is with a parent, losing a parent will have a profound effect. I have the greatest sympathy for the Thatchers.

    • Janet

      Many thanks for your comment, Clara, I’m pleased you enjoyed the article. Yes, in all the public comment, the grief of two people who had just lost their Mother was largely overlooked. First and foremost, we’re human beings and our chosen career is secondary to that. I appreciate your taking the time to share your feelings and lovely to have your feedback. I hope you’ll visit again. Best wishes, Janet Swift