This past weekend I went to see The Iron Lady with Meryl Streep playing the role of Margaret Thatcher, Britain’s Prime Minister from 1979 until 1990.
If you haven’t seen it, you need to. Meryl Streep is spectacular.
I wanted to see it, not so much because I was a fan of Margaret Thatcher, as I am a lover of historical films. Films that take you back in time – period pieces that recreate an era to the last detail.
And because I had seen Meryl Streep recreate Julia Child to perfection in Julie & Julia.
From the very beginning I knew this story went well beyond history. Well beyond political alliances. It wasn’t about events, except to the extent that those events helped shape a life. But no doubt, that life helped shape many of those events in history.
And whether or not I agreed with her politics, I couldn’t help but be moved by the story of her life.
Scenes that depict someone known for a political career, as a woman who loved, and was loved by, the same man from her youth.
Scenes of a grocer’s daughter in a society not known for breaking out of classes, who rose to an Oxford education and one of the highest political positions in the land.
When it was still unheard of in most of the world for a woman to do such a thing.
In my part of the world.
Perhaps my favorite scene is the one in which she accepts Denis’ proposal of marriage, but not before telling him that she doesn’t want to get to the end of her life and be washing teacups, that “one’s life should matter beyond all that.”
And he tells her that’s precisely why he wants to marry her.
I like that in a man.
Tears came easily as I watched Meryl Streep do a striking portrayal of someone nearing the end of her life, when the ability to remember what happened decades ago comes more easily than remembering what was eaten for breakfast. When every momento, every photo in the house has stories behind it, and everywhere you look is a link to the past. A past where almost everyone connected to you is gone. And the ability to participate in life in the way that has always brought meaning and joy, now eludes you.
How the enemy must tempt those in that time of life into believing the lie that they are no longer needed, no longer valued, simply because they can’t do the things they once did.
As though no one remembers what you did.
As though life were valued only by our ability to wash teacups.
But your life did matter.
And we won’t forget.