Lady Thatcher Fades Away

Lady Margaret Thatcher, Baroness of Kesteven, Prime Minister of Great Britain from 1979 until 1990.

The Right Honorable Margaret Thatcher, LG, OM, PC, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and now the Baroness of Kesteven, is suffering from dementia, according to her daughter Carol in a new book.

This is a sad end for a remarkable woman. Despite my liberal credentials, I always had a soft spot in my heart for Lady Thatcher (as I did for President Reagan). I admired her skill, determination, and inner strength. Indeed, she reminds me of my grandmother Esther in many ways.

Now it appears that, like her close ally Ronald Reagan, the glories of the past are fading away under the ravages of a terrible disease. I am truly saddened by this. I think she (like Reagan) deserves better.

My thoughts are with her family.

An excerpt from the New York Times:

August 26, 2008

Britain’s Thatcher Has Dementia

LONDON — Former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher has been suffering from dementia for at least the past eight years and has often had to be reminded that her husband is dead, said her daughter, Carol.

It is common knowledge that Mrs. Thatcher, 82, has been in fragile condition since suffering a series of small strokes in 2002 and since the death of her husband, Denis, in 2003. She gave up public speaking several years ago, on the advice of her doctor, and makes far fewer appearances than she once did.

But while people in Mrs. Thatcher’s circle have long known that her prodigious mind is not what it once was, they have not spoken publicly about it until now.

Details of Mrs. Thatcher’s condition are recounted by her daughter in a new memoir, “A Swim-On Part in the Goldfish Bowl,” which was excerpted in The Mail on Sunday.

Carol Thatcher, 55, said that it was during a lunch at a London hotel in 2000 when she first realized her mother was mentally slipping. They began discussing the Bosnian conflict of the 1990s when, much to Ms. Thatcher’s shock and dismay, it became clear that her mother was confusing that crisis with the Falklands war of the 1980s.

Mrs. Thatcher’s confusion was all the more upsetting because she had always been known for her prodigious memory — “like a Web site,” her daughter said — and grasp of minute details.

“The realization came as a thunderbolt,” Carol Thatcher writes in a memoir, which will be published on Sept. 4. “I almost fell off my chair. Watching her struggle with her words and memory, I couldn’t believe it. She was in her 75th year, but I had always thought of her as ageless, timeless.”

In the memoir, Carol Thatcher describes how her mother began asking the same questions over and over, oblivious to the fact that she was doing so. She describes how on the day of the terrorist bombings in Madrid in 2004, Mrs. Thatcher was entertaining some friends for dinner but, by the time they arrived, had forgotten that the bombing took place.

Most distressing was the fact that after her husband died, Mrs. Thatcher had to be reminded repeatedly that he was no longer there.

“Every time it finally sank in that she had lost her husband of more than 50 years,” Ms. Thatcher writes, “she’d look at me sadly and say, ‘Oh.’”

But, she writes, Mrs. Thatcher still has periods of lucidity and can remember details about her tenure as prime minister, which lasted from 1979 to 1990, and stories from the past.

“When a friend asked, off-the-cuff, ‘Oh, Margaret, do you remember rationing?’ he got a full 10 minutes of my mother’s best grocer’s daughter tips on how to jazz up tinned Spam or powdered egg,” she recounts.


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