The 7th June 2020 will be etched in my memory forever.
It hardly seemed real 12 months ago – and it hardly seems real still ☹
I’m not going to make any apology for being a little emotional today, as I put pen to paper in this week’s FIT Matters, because it’s an anniversary absolutely worthy of note and of lessons learned over this last year.
You all know what our Lead Consultant and best friend of over 33 years meant to David & I – and to the team at FIT and of course, to our 3 boys, who she was godmother to.
Maggie Colman (a k a Elsie) played an enormous part in both our personal and business lives AND in the lives of many of our wonderful clients’ too over the last 20 years.
She was a force to be reckoned with – fiercely loyal and protective of both her friendships and her working partnerships. She guarded our business with her life and gave every ounce of energy and every fibre of her being to getting our clients ‘FIT for business’, resolute in her determination to keep the FIT brand living & breathing, long after we’d left our clients’ building.I am sure there are many of you reading this post today, who will also be feeling sad one year on, remembering our Elsie as a larger than life, colourful character, who would’ve (almost literally) laid down her life for those causes and people that mattered to her – of which there were many many causes and people that mattered to her.
We have a bucket-full of stories we could share today, to lighten the load (of grief) we still feel in having lost Mags in such a drastically short & cruel way to the horrid big C – and it seems fitting to tell you about some of them right now, as we all begin to emerge from lockdown and the world begins to open up to a brighter tomorrow.
Because Mags was forever the optimist – she would’ve loved this opportunity to see the glass as half full, rather than half-empty and she’d be the first to get back on her slingbacks (or her funky boots or even her posh flip-flops, of which she had many many pairs – of both!) and buoyantly encourage everyone else, friends and colleagues alike, to do the same as we move onwards & upwards this year.
She always focused on the solution, not the problem. Indeed, Mags refused to see the darkness in a difficult situation – she’d rather bury it and be ignorant in bliss than face conflict, because contrary to popular belief, Mags didn’t like controversy or discord (as her hubby Steve will tell you – any sign of an upcoming row and they’d ‘walk a mountain’ to dissolve the impending argument instead )
One of the best examples I can share of her tenacity and determination to get the job done – and done superbly well at that, was hearing about her stories during her time managing an all-male field sales force at Kimberley Clarke. She certainly knew how to get and keep those boys in check, and stood no nonsense from any of them, although I do know they loved and respected her in equal measure, for her shoot-from-the-hip style and consummate professionalism.
Maggie had an enthusiasm and zest for life and adventure that was envied by many – she literally worked to holiday, and boy! did she work and boy! did she holiday Mags and Steve travelled the world over the almost 40 years they were together and they have a million (literally) wonderful photos and memories to prove it, thanks to Steve’s clever talent for taking the most amazing pictures in some of the most incredible locations in that time
One of my earliest memories of Mags’ huge heart and kindness to others was the regular ‘pillow presents’ she’d leave for us and the boys, whenever we went to stay with her & Steve in their beautiful idyllic little cottage in North Wales. She was a giver, through and through, and much preferred to see other people enjoy her generosity than to lavish it on herself, although she DID like to indulge in good wine and posh frocks on occasion
Maggie was jokingly known as Mary Poppins – she had been told from quite a young age (having been an only child for over 10 years until her brother Iain came along) that she was Practically Perfect In Every Way, which she believed for many years and even had a plaque up bearing said phrase in her study!
Maggie always claimed that she was a high-maintenance friend – and she was, no doubt about that. She wouldn’t have wanted me to lie about that claim or frill it up. She had only a few, really close true friends but my goodness, she guarded those friendships with her life and soul.We met over 33 years ago, joining a training consultancy within a week of each other, where she managed a sales team who used to ‘sell me in’ to clients and we forged a bond that remained tight and strong for all those years – bar just one occasion when she wanted me to go with her to India to work on a client project in the middle of my family holiday. We didn’t speak for ONE whole day after that feud, but we DID walk a mountain to bury the disagreement on my return!
And it’s also true to say that she was L’Oreal through and through – she was absolutely WORTH IT!
Continue to rest easy upstairs Elsie – no doubt you’re at the bar now with your lovely Mum (and my Dad muscling in on the occasion too, I’m sure) enjoying a cheeky glass (or 5) of shampoo to mark your anniversary.
To all of you who Maggie meant something to – why not raise a glass with her, or to her this evening?
And let’s reflect on her many attributes that we could all do with having in our kitbag right now, as we move into a new tomorrow, to ensure we start looking at life through the positive lens she always did.
Until next time – stay safe and keep FIT