Marion Halliday Hood Mackay
Music: “Ain’t no mountain high enough”
– Tammi Terrell and Marvyn Gaye
"Good morning everybody, and
welcome. We are here today to say our
goodbyes to Marion Deighan, and to
celebrate her life. Marion was a unique person and so is
her ceremony. As her family wanted, this will be a
humanist ceremony, without hymns or religious content.
We will look back on Marion’s life and at the impact she
made on the lives and memories of those who knew her
and cared for her.
My name’s Bob Barfoot and I’m
honoured to have been asked to conduct
this ceremony. I’m a celebrant from the
Humanist Society Scotland. Humanists try to make sense
of the world using compassion and reason. We believe
that we’ve only got one life and we should live it in the
best way we can, supporting one another
and sharing with our fellow human beings
all of the burdens and pleasures that life
has to offer. Some of you may be people of faith and
may not know much about a humanist funeral. I hope that you
will feel comfortable with this ceremony, of which you
are an important part. Later, there will be a time for
reflection. All of us will have a chance then to think of
Marion in our own way and to say our own private
farewells. Those of you of
faith may wish to use this opportunity for
Whatever our beliefs, I hope we can agree
we share a common humanity, which unites
us in love in times of joy and in sympathy
in times of grief. Marion’s life touched
each of you here in different ways. In future you may talk
about Marion with roars of laughter or with tears, in chats
with friends or in family stories told to children too young
to remember Marion when she was alive. It
is through this human community of memory
that there is continuity in spite of
There is no hiding the fact that this is a
sad day, but it is also a time to
celebrate Marion’s life. She was certainly a
woman who celebrated life!
I didn’t have the pleasure of knowing
Marion when she was alive, but I feel I
have come to know her in the last few
days, as her children Pat, Rena, Peter and Marion,
and other members of her family, have shared their stories
and memories with me. Let’s talk about Marion now.
Marion Halliday Hood Mackay McMillan, for
that was her full name, was born on the 30th July 1928, in
Arthur Street in Edinburgh. There were still horse drawn cabs in
Edinburgh when Marion was a little girl and her father Thomas was a
hansom cab driver. Marion was the second youngest of nine children,
and for her mother Isabella, bringing up the children was a full
Arthur Street, where the family lived, was
a steep sloping street at the side of what was then the King’s Park.
It isn’t there any more, the large stone tenements were knocked down
to make way for the Dumbiedykes flats but Arthur Street was to leave
its mark on Marion in many ways.
These large tenements had long dark
airshafts that led down to the back greens. As a little girl Marion,
you won’t be surprised to hear, was an adventurous little tomboy.
One day when she was five years old, she decided to climb through
one of these dark airshafts. It was nearly the last thing she ever
did. Little Marion realised after a short while that the airshaft
got narrower and that she couldn’t turn back. She was getting very
tired crawling inch by inch along that dark narrow airshaft. If she
hadn’t made it she would have almost certainly never have been
But Marion showed the kind of grit and
determination she was to show all of her life as she dragged her
little self along that tight dark airshaft to the light and the air
of the back green. Young Marion went back to the house covered in
dirt and muck and looking like, well like she’d just dragged herself
along an airshaft! Of course she got an almighty row from her mother
Isabella, but Marion couldn’t tell her mother where she’d been, as
that would have meant she got an even bigger row!
As a wee girl Marion also used to show her
humour and quick wittedness. Gambling was illegal in those days and
being only a little girl, Marion was posted as a look out while her
older brothers and their friends gambled in the street. Marion would
shout “ Police” at the top of her voice and every one would run and
hide, grabbing as much money as they could. There was no police of
course and Marion would run up, grab any money that was lying around
and pocket it herself!
When the Second World War came, Marion
joined the army and became a member of the women's branch of the
Army the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS). Marion was stationed
in Edinburgh but used to ignore the fact that she was actually in
the army and pop home for a cup of tea and a chat with her mother.
The army weren’t too pleased with this, but for Marion, family
always came first and anyone else, even the British Army, would just
have to wait their turn!
Around this time, Marion had met Paddy
Deighan a handsome young man who owned a
horse and cart. Marion remembered riding in the horse and
cart, sitting proudly beside the handsome Paddy as they went round
the King’s Park. Paddy was to be Marion’s first and only boyfriend.
They were married in the registry office in Edinburgh on the 18th
August 1947 and Marion McMillan became Marion Deighan.
Once again the steep slopes of Arthur
Street were to play a part in Marion’s life. In the spring of 1948
she was pregnant and talking to her mother Isabella in the family
home when Isabella sat down and died suddenly. Marion was panicked
and upset and ran into the slippery and steep street. She fell so
badly that she was taken to hospital. Some days later, her first
daughter Rena, was born. Within the space of a few short days Marion
had lost her mother and gained a daughter.
Marion’s new family grew and they moved
just close to Arthur Street in East Arthur Place. Her first son Pat
was born in 1950 and when her second son Peter was born in 1952, the
flat was so crowded that Peter slept in a drawer! Marion’s younger
daughter, also called Marion, was born in 1954.
Paddy and Marion eventually went their
separate ways and strangely their divorce became final on February
14th 1959, St Valentine’s Day. For the rest of her life while
everyone else was sending romantic hearts and flowers Marion would
joke that she was celebrating her divorce! But Marion, in her
family’s words “didn’t have a selfish bone in her body”. She
made sure that the children remained in contact with Paddy, their
father, and for the rest of her life Paddy remained the only
boyfriend she had ever had.
By now Arthur Street was demolished and the
family had moved out to Niddrie House. Marion then, as always,
devoted her life to her children. The brave determined spirit of the
little girl who had crawled along the airshaft in Arthur Street was
still there. She worked hard at work that was hard. She worked on
the buses, cleaned trains and did jobs usually done by men, as these
jobs were in those days, better paid.
But Marion didn’t just give her four
children food and clothing, she gave them loving care and taught
them the family values that were to remain with them for life and
into the lives of future generations. Times were hard but they were
not grim. There are many funny family stories about their upbringing
and some of them can’t be told here, but the words “Magic Fairy”
will always bring a smile to the faces of Rena, Pat, Peter and
As we’ve heard their mother Marion was
working hard and long hours and was strict about bedtimes. Everyone
had to be in bed by nine o’clock with the doors shut. It was Pat who
first called out “Magic Fairy, open the door!” to their little
sister Marion. She was only young and sneaked up and opened the
door. Next it was “Magic Fairy, get us a biscuit” and little Marion
would tiptoe along to get a biscuit for them. Well you can probably
guess what happened next. Little Marion was caught by her mother
Marion and given what for, while her brothers and sister no doubt
giggled quietly in their beds. The little “magic fairy” had her
wings well and truly clipped! Even today, half a century later, the
words “Magic Fairy” still bring a smile to the family.
There were no holidays then as money was so
tight but the family remember trips to Portobello and happy times
spent cycling or playing games with their mother Marion. She
was always busy and cheerful. As her son Peter said “You would go to
bed and the room would be blue and wake up and it would be a
different colour !". She must have been exhausted but her children
always came first. As the years went by and the children became
teenagers the house was full of parties and friends and music, with
Marion making sure everyone had sandwiches and food. She was in her
children’s words “always a young mum, despite her age”. As the years
went by and her older daughter Rena grew to adult hood, she and her
mother became more like sisters and friends than mother and
Marion was a caring and unselfish woman who
worked very hard and devoted her life to her four children.
But there was always room in her heart for more. She shared her home
often for months at a time with other children within the family who
at the time needed her care, love and attention.
But Marion was no pushover. She instilled
in her family the values of hard work. When the children reached
working age the option of staying in the house did not exist.
Marion’s view was “find a job”. You were sent out the door at eight
in the morning and expected back at five at night. Lazing around in
the house was not an option. Each of Marion’s children made their
own way successfully in the world and Marion was fiercely proud of
Later in life, passing by the Sheep’s Heid
Inn near what was then the Queen’s Park, Marion remembered as a
young girl proudly riding in the horse and cart beside Paddy. She
said she never would have imagined all those years ago that one of
her children, young Marion, would have owned a house nearby.
Marion became a grandmother for the first
time on 4th of May 1967 with the birth of Mark. He was followed by
Warren, Sonia, Derek, Peter, Faye and Jenny. She became Nana to them
all and as you can imagine she doted on them.
My words cannot fully do justice to what it
meant to have Marion as a grandmother. Her granddaughters Sonia and
Jenny will now say a few words about their Nana."
Jenny – My Nana
"The head of the
family, she has always been there to help and support and always
For my brother and I she was no.1 and I
have to say for an old lady a lot of fun.
She loved to tell me stories throughout the
years, some of them were so funny they would bring me to tears.
A larger than life character with so much
pride who loved nothing more than all her family by her side.
My Nana was simply the best and now the
time has come for her to rest.
So goodbye Nana you won't be far away and
in my heart you will always stay.
A star in the sky that shines so bright, I
love you Nana. Big kiss goodnight xxxxxx."
caterpillar perceives is the end, to the butterfly is just the
She was a mother, a mother figure, a
sister, an auntie and a grandmother but most of all a friend to all
of us. I’m sure each and every one of you here today has something
to share on how my grandmother touched your life.
She lived for her family and never missed
an opportunity to tell us all how proud she was.
Rena, Pat, Peter, Wee Marion
Mark, Warren, Sonia (me), Peter, Derek,
Faye and Jenny
Without you Nana: We would not exist You
installed belief and greatness in your children and then your
grandchildren. You lived to see your great grandchildren born,
Sophie, Alfie and Harvey who will now carry your legacy.
I know that you are happy now and in no
pain. I can only imagine how joyous the reunion was with all the
family members you've lost over the years. What a celebration you'll
I would like to read a poem from my Nana to
not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there, I do not
I am a 1,000 winds that
I am the diamond glints on
I am the sun on ripened
I am the gentle autumn rain
When you awaken in the
I am the swift uplifting
Of quiet birds in circled
I am the soft star that
shines at night
Do not stand at my grave
I am not there; I did not
will no longer be at the end of a telephone or behind the door as it
opens. My Nana lives here (point to heart) for each and everyone of
us. So when we miss her we only need sit and she'll be right
there with us always ......never forgotten."
"Marion had moved
house from Niddrie to Hyvots Loan and then about ten years ago to
the house in Ross Gardens where she was to spend the rest of her
life. By now she had stopped work and she still lived for her family
and they in turn were devoted to her, happy to repay her for the
love and care she had given them.
As you came in you heard the song “Ain’t no
mountain high enough”. It’s a song that means a lot to the family.
The words say “If you need me, call me, no matter where you are, No
matter how far, don't worry, Just call my name, I'll be there in a
hurry.” That was Marion, and these are the values that will
live on in the family because she has lived.
Marion’s health began to fade. Being
Marion, a strong minded and determined woman, she refused to go into
hospital and had even threatened to “haunt” her children if they let
her go to hospital! For the last three years she had been nursed and
cared for at home by her elder son Pat. Rena, Peter and Marion will
always be grateful to their brother for the outstanding care he gave
Marion in her last years.
On Saturday 19th of January Marion had
planned a Tea Party and the family gathered for food and laughter.
By all accounts she looked fabulous
and was cheery and laughing, and packing away the stovies as she
wanted to “bulk up”. Because of the snow the fun continued the next
day with Marion insisting that the stranded members of the family
stayed with her and she got beds made up for them and food was made
ready. She was radiant and happy surrounded by the family she loved
The very next day Marion’s enormous
strength finally left her and she died peacefully at home with her
family by her side, on the 21st of January 2013. Just after Marion
died, as the doctor’s car pulled sadly away from the family home
there was a remarkable pattern left in the snow, You can see it on
the photo on your order of ceremony today. Who
knows, maybe it’s a pair of magic fairy wings?
Marion had been part of the lives of five
generations of the family from her parents Thomas and Isabella in
Arthur Street early last century, to her great grandchildren in the
present day. Marion was the heart of the family. She was the boss,
giving the family their drive, their humour and their strong love
for each other. For Marion’s family, the world will be a darker
place without her. She was a much loved woman and she will be
We will now take a short pause for
reflection when you may choose to say your own, private farewells.
At this time, please take a moment to remember Marion in your own
personal way, while we listen to a piece of music chosen by the
family to remember her. For Rena, Pat, Peter, Marion and the rest of
this close and loving family, the message is in the words of the
song. It is 'Wind beneath my wings'
by Bette Midler."
Music –“Wind beneath my
wings” by Bette Midler.
We have now come to the part
of today’s ceremony when we will say our formal farewells to Marion.
If you are able to, will you please stand?
"Every living being
has a beginning and an end, and for each of us, there’s a time to be
born and a time to die. Marion,
we’re glad that you lived, we’re glad that we saw
your face and we felt your love.."
Now in peace and thoughtfulness, we bid you
We took delight in your love and friendship.
We treasure the life we walked with you;
We cherish the memory of your words,
your achievements, and your character.
On a wave of love we leave you in peace.
With respect and love, we bid you farewell.
Marion’s life has come to its end but her
personality will live on in your memories. The pain of her loss may
fade, but not the light that she brought to all of your lives."
Please take your seats again.
All of us have Marion’s family in our
thoughts and I know your presence here today has been a comfort to
them and has helped to pay tribute to Marion. The family invite you
to join them after this ceremony at the Minto Hotel in Minto Street,
here in Edinburgh.
All of you, family and friends, have lost
the joy of having Marion around in your lives. But love is never
lost, it just changes to a different kind of love. In future you
might see a Valentine’s card and you’ll think of Marion and have a
wee smile to yourself. I think she would have liked that. When
you carry Marion’s memory in your minds and hearts and remember the
things that made her unique, that made you love and care for her,
you will find that she will be never be far away from you.
This sense of love and memory is expressed in the short poem “Love
Lives On” by an unknown author."
we love remain with us,
For love itself lives on,
And cherished memories never
Because a loved one’s gone.
Those we love can never be
More than a thought apart,
For as long as there is memory
They’ll live on in the heart."
Marion’s family would like to
thank you all for coming today. They greatly appreciate your comfort
and support. As we leave we’ll listen to another song chosen
by the family to remember Marion, it’s 'Unforgettable'
by Nat King Cole.
Could you please now stand, as
the family leaves?
Music –. “Unforgettable” by
Nat King Cole.