Celebration of her life: Margaret Magowan

mum and QThis is the tribute that we as a family, wrote about mum. Within the article is a link to the funeral service sheet, and at the foot are the photos of mum that we put on the foot of the service sheet, a short illustrative representation of her life. to end the article are the two pieces of music we chose for the crematorium service. 

Click here for the Margaret Magowan service sheet. Funeral date: 4 July 2013

Family tribute, written and read by Melanie Ryding, with help from Gary and Samantha

If you lived anywhere near our house you would recognise this phrase: ‘Ach, Gary!’ You could take the girl out of Ireland but you couldn’t take Ireland out of the girl!

As a child, Mum was always very loveable. She always wanted to look out for people, visiting the elderly and running errands as far back as William her brother can remember. She was a prefect at school, despite the fact that she did in fact do William’s homework for him every morning when he refused to go to school! She was involved in the Red Cross, as early as her teenage years, gaining the position of assistant commandant.

The famous family story is about the day that she put her baby brother in the drawer and closed it, leaving her mum and dad distraught wondering what had happened to William. In the hospital the other week she joked with William she was only sorry she didn’t keep her foot on the drawer.

She was even in her school choir. But, if you knew her singing voice, you would understand why mum was told to stand at the back, mime and not make a sound!

Early on in her marriage with dad, mum was quiet and reserved. He clearly remembers a day that she bought some shoes. After a week they broke and dad told her she should take them back. After saying she wouldn’t want to do that, Dad went in, gave them a roasting and the rest is history.

She moved with Dad to England just before I was born. The story goes that she wanted so badly for me to be born Irish, but I was having none of it! I was born just weeks after she made the big move. The short stretch of water didn’t stop mum from being Irish. She would ask her mum to send over parcels of her favourite goodies that she missed and couldn’t get over here. Like Veda bread, soda bread potato cakes, brown lemonade and vegetable roll (which, for the English in this church, has absolutely nothing to do with vegetables, and in fact it’s main ingredient is meat!). As a youngster, I was sent on the plane to Belfast to stay with my grandparents for the summer, mum waving me off at one end, and nana meeting me at the other.

We went on family caravan holidays in England as children, my fondest memory being that we would all wish each other goodnight in the style of the ‘Waltons’ calling out from our beds: goodnight beautiful, goodnight handsome, goodnight pretty, goodnight gorgeous!

Mum was a feisty one. There was no messing with her. As a child we had the slipper, the stiletto and a variety of other things (even a vacuum cleaner) if we stepped out of line. She was boss, and that’s the way she liked it! It did us no harm though, and she was still always very proud of us.

One of our clearest memories as a child is the tall stories that Mum used to tell us about when her and dad were in the circus, when she used to do summersaults on the trapeze, walk to tightrope, did acrobatics out of a plane, and various other dare devil stunts! She must have missed telling those stories because when Samantha’s son, her grandson Qamran was born in February 2004, she began to tell them all to him instead! His most recent nickname for her was ‘gangster granny’ after a character in a book she would read him at bedtime.

As her only grandchild, Qamran was her world, her everything, Mum was supportive through his early years, helping Samantha to sculpt Qamran into the happy caring young man he is today. Mum was always involved in Qamran’s education, showing a keen interest and supporting all his achievements. To Qamran, certificates meant presents from a very proud granny.

Over the years Qamran has spent many a holiday with mum and dad caravanning, quad biking, rock climbing, swimming, golfing, bowling, horse riding, the list of activities is endless. After many tearful goodbyes at the end of the school holidays, Dad was once again widowed by the phone almost every night just so granny and Qamran could have a catch up.

Qamran’s fondest memory of her was the day that Granny went on a zip wire at the country park. She got distracted by two people hiding in the bushes not expecting or noticing the tyre that stopped the wire. Granny fell off the zip wire and her skirt went over her head, creating much amusement for all around, specially Qamran!

She had a very big soft side and huge warm heart, although I swear she modelled herself on Mrs Bouquet, her house was always enviously spotless and you were overfed with cakes and things every time you visited. People were always reminded that our name was Magouan, not Magowan! That’s our mum for you though.

Mums ever giving nature was evident to ME from a very early age. She opened her loving doors to foster children when we were young, was a dental nurse, then later became an auxiliary nurse working with stroke patients, where she developed an empathy in care of the elderly. This is when her acting career began, as she threw herself wholeheartedly into the entertainment, bringing hollywood to the old people, with dad in tow, no choice as always.

She was well known for her kind compassionate nature in her community. Nothing was too much trouble for mum. Dad was always widowed (bless him) by the phone as mum was a social animal who was never happy unless she was chatting. Dad often cursed the fact that they did not in fact have shares in BT!

I graduated with my first degree in 1997 and mum was so proud, yet sad that grandad hadn’t lived to see the day too. I graduated again in 2009 and made her proud once again.

When I called her later that year to tell her that I had made it onto the GB team for my first world championships she thought I was winding her up. She watched from afar and celebrated all my results. She only came to one race, and that day in June it was freezing, with unprecedented torrential rain and floods, the worst I have ever raced in! I think it put her off triathlon! She still supported me from afar though and I knew her thoughts were always with me.

I announced in 2012 that I was considering moving to New Zealand, Mum was devastated. She was afraid that it may be the last time she ever saw me. I told her not to be so stupid. We talked about it at length and she told me that I would be ok and made my husband Mark promise her that he would look after me.

When I also faced a sporting-career ending knee injury last year, She reassured me that I was strong, I had reinvented myself several times in my life already, and she was sure I could do it again. I will, mum and this next one will be for you.

She wrote me a beautiful card that had the following quote on it: this world is big enough for all our dreams, especially yours’

Inside it says ‘remember I am always near, no matter how far apart we are.’ Mum, I hear you and I feel you near me now.

Mums last words to me were on the phone on Sunday 23 June. She whispered to me that she loved me very much, and she would try her best to wait for me. And try she did, with every ounce of her being.

I’m sorry mum, that I didn’t make it back in time. I tried, really I did.

Mum, I love you with all my heart. Rest at peace in heaven, and wait for me there.


Crematorium entrance music: also played at her Dad’s funeral:

Crematorium exit music

Author: Melanie Magowan

I am a massage therapist and part time athlete

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