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  • Writer's pictureChristine Collister

Celebrating Maggie

Blogpost No 5 May 2024


I’m a week later than usual with this Blogpost but I’m sure many of you know and understand the reason why. My Mum, Maggie Collister, passed peacefully on Saturday, May 18th just before 5 pm. Bob and I were in the UK for a much-anticipated wedding but my sister Diane, brother Colin and sister-in-law Rachel were at her side through the last rather dramatic week of her life. I didn’t want to focus on those stressful events so have chosen instead to share with you, the eulogy I read out at her Funeral Service on Wednesday (May 29th). It’s a fun read.


Maggie Collister 11/06/38-18/05/24


Music prior to service: Boogie-Woogie Boy - Andrews Sisters; Putting On The Agony - Lonnie Donegan ; Rock Around The Clock Bill Hailey - Bepop-a-Lula Gene Vincent. ; Chantilly Lace - The Big Boppa.


Christine Collister Miller: welcome and eulogy.



First of all, on behalf of myself and Diane, Paul and Colin, my sister and brothers and our respective partners, Bob, David and Rachel, thank you so much for being here today to celebrate the life of our Mum, Maggie Collister.


Mum was a glamorous, funny, mercurial, larger-than-life character. You could cut the atmosphere with a knife when she was in a frosty mood but equally, she could lift a room full of people into fits of laughter with her daft and very quick sense of humour. Unlike her husband Eddie -  our Dad -  she loved nothing better than being the centre of attention in any situation and if, for some reason, the attention drifted, she’d find a way to bring it back. At times it was a fine balance riding the waves of her changing moods but … whilst she was daft-as-a-brush she was also generous and loved life with a passion.


Let’s start at the beginning and see how far we get - although with almost 86 years to cover there may be a few omissions - so please forgive me!


Margaret Anne Quine was born in Douglas on June 11th 1938, the second daughter of Eleanor and Gilbert Quine. She adored her older sister Sheila, who was always looking out for her, even up to her passing in 2020.


Mum’s early life was not without drama. First of all, she nearly drowned in the Tromode river, aged 2. Then one Sunday teatime, when she and Sheila were still quite young and Grandad was back from the war, they had the prized delights of dried prunes and custard for pudding. As Sheila tucked into hers, Mum somehow got a prune stuck in the back of her throat and started to choke. She turned blue! Sheila yelled for help and Grandad rushed in, turned Mum upside down and started to bang her back to dislodge the prune. Thankfully, successful. However, with his last slap, the prune shot out of Mum’s mouth and landed in Sheila’s bowl. Sheila screamed and ran out of the room refusing to eat her lovely pudding. Mum, unperturbed by her near-death-experience, not only ate her own but then proceeded to wolf down Sheila’s too!


Mum would be the first to tell you she was not up to much at school but as soon as she left, when she was 16, she took the world by storm. Her first job was at a small grocery store on Prospect Hill. But her next job, as a filing clerk for Social Services, was the one she loved most. Even until very recently, when memories were few and oh so precious, she would proudly recount that when she first entered the filing room it was a complete and utter mess — but she single-handedly organised all the files into alphabetical order so that by the time she left, anyone could find and file anything!


In January 1957 when she was 18, she met the love of her life, Eddie Collister. Mum was going out with a guy named Tony at the time but Eddie didn’t let that put him off. He used to say, “I told that fellah, “if you don’t start treating her right, you’re going to lose her.” And he was right. Just a few weeks later Margaret and Eddie started going out. They were in a Skiffle Group together, where Dad played the Tea Box Bass and Mum played the Washboard. They could both hold a tune and loved Rock’n’Roll music. I remember Vinyl records being played on their Dansette: Lonnie Donegan, Gene Vincent, Bill Hailey and later on The Beatles — and for some strange reason, I will never know the answer to, a box set of Hawaiian guitar music.


There is an early glitch in their perfect love story, when later in 1957 Dad was conscripted into the Army for two years. Mum used to tell us: “They say absence, makes the heart grow fonder but I know that absence makes the heart forget!” She started seeing someone else (no name was ever given for this part of the story) and so she wrote Dad a “Dear John letter”. He was utterly devastated and got compassionate leave to travel home to plead with her to reconsider. Which she did, given one proviso: that they marry that weekend! And so on November 28th 1958, their married life began. Mum moved to the UK to be close to Dad while he was a cook in the Army, and got herself a job working in the kitchens of a private girls’ school near his barracks. In 1959, in one of the hottest summers ever, Mum found out she was pregnant, and Diane, the first of their 4 children, arrived in October of that year. I arrived in December 1961 and Paul and Colin four years apart in 1965 and 1969.


We all lived together with our many pets, next door to the church, at 21 Farrant Street. We had 2 guinea pigs called Bubble and Squeak, Lassie a black and white border Collie, who had seven pups one summer and Crankshaft-Fred, a stray black and white cat with a crooked tail and for a short time, a rescued hedgehog. We were quite the menagerie!


Mum was brought up in Willaston, Dad in Pulrose,  and, they both held ambitions to do the very best for their young family. The purchase of Farrant Street in 1963, in and of itself was a major achievement. In the late sixties early ‘70s when there was an overflow of visitors to the Island, Mum started doing Bed and Breakfast, way before AirB’B was heard of. While visitors would enjoy staying in our bedrooms and using the front room as a dining room, we all slept in the back bedroom together with the help of two sets of bunk beds, with Mum and Dad’s bed in the middle. Mum discovered she was a natural and generous hostess, which got her and Dad thinking.


In February of 1972, we moved into the Ellan Vannin Hotel on Loch Prom. This was a massive move for the whole family. If anyone could get through such a huge transition it was Mum and Dad - and they flew! When we moved in, there were 22 bedrooms, all with hot and cold running water. At a pinch, during TT, we could squeeze 65 paying guests into those 22 rooms. There were three toilets for paying guests - three! And two … I’ll say that again, two bathrooms. Not a shower in sight. By the time they left 25 years later, in April of 1997, the hotel boasted 18 rooms, all en-suite, with direct-dial phones, Sky TV, tea and coffee-making facilities and heating. They worked their socks off and were very proud of all they achieved.


Mum was also very proud of winning Douglas In Bloom a number of times. Her window boxes are legendary! You could hardly see the hotel through the flamboyant, blousy Busy Lizzes, Begonias and blue Lobelia that flowed over the sides of the boxes. They always looked amazing.

Mum and Dad loved to laugh. We remember many fun times growing up. Paul reminded us of the time they took us to see Jaws at the Picture House on Strand Street in 1975. Colin was only 6 … his memory is of trying to keep his feet on the seat so he wouldn’t have his ankles bitten by a stray shark. And we all remember THAT moment when the whole cinema jumped. Mum had the biggest box of popcorn you could get and she showered the entire row and those people in the cheap seats below … as Paul tells it, “Everyone wore Popcorn that night.”


Our first-ever Package Holiday was to Ibiza and it was the hotel there that inspired them to renovate the Ellan Vannin. They’d never seen an en-suite bathroom before then! There were many wonderful family holidays in Mayorca, Benidorm, and Magaluf. But there was also a Christmas holiday Mum and Dad booked with Aunty Sheila, Uncle Ken and Nana. They went to Cyprus. They thought they’d have a bit of winter sun but it rained the entire time they were there. Apart from the two-day trip to Egypt! The boat trip took twice as long as it should because the sea was so rough however it made the camel ride to the Pyramids a doddle. They laughed the whole time they were together - apart from the boat ride.



Becoming grandparents was a great joy to them both. In 1993 two boys arrived just two weeks apart, Liam, Colin and Rachel’s eldest and Benjamin, Diane and David’s eldest. Then Aaron, Dominic, Connor, Poppy, Oscar and Jamie. And in 2022 Connor and Niamh’s gorgeous daughter Adaline made Mum a Great Nana.


In 1997, when Mum was 59 and Dad had just turned 60, they sold the Ellan Vannin and fell in love with a house in Kirk Michael. It was an unexpected move out to the West Coast but they absolutely loved it. For a few years, they reverted to using their highly honed hotel skills and offered Bed And Breakfast, which was a roaring success, earning Lyngarth 4 diamond status!  Then one winter when B&B was quiet, Mum decided to get a job. She first worked at the Kirby Garden Centre, and then, her favourite job of all was at the Perfumery at St Johns, where she was able to show off her front-of-house skills to their very best.


At about this time, Mum became interested in many alternative therapies and pastimes. She not only did Tai Chi classes but became the teacher for her and Sheila’s group when their teacher retired. She trained and qualified in Reiki and Quantum Touch healing and she also started a weekly Meditation Group upstairs at Lyngarth, which carried on for quite a few years. Many people came and went and benefitted from her generous spirit and bright light. She would first lead the group in a guided visualisation and at the end of the session, when everyone had shared their experiences, she often told long, sometimes complicated tales of meeting Golden Eagle and Silver Wolf, her animal Spirit guides. We could never figure out how she was able to lead everyone through the meditation and still have these amazing stories to tell. Through this time she blossomed. Her most exciting adventures were at Shamanic Drum Workshops. One time she even made her own drum and also spent several weekends away on retreat … no doubt howling at the Moon and banging her drum with wild abandon well into the night.


Once properly retired, with no more B&B or day jobs, Mum and Dad had the opportunity to visit Paul in Perth, Australia. They went 4 times in all and each time had the most wonderful experiences. One day, Paul was driving Mum, Dad, Me and Bob to a lunch spot he loved near Joondalup, where he lived. We were chatting in the car when we passed a Cyclist in the Cycling lane. Dad said: “We’ve got a Cycle path in Douglas but there’s only one.” And Mum, quick as a flash said: “Yeah but everyone knows where he lives!” We couldn’t stop laughing! Paul had to pull over for fear of crashing!


Another highlight for Mum was travelling to Egypt on pilgrimage, quite different to the Christmas holiday. She had the opportunity to go twice and the second time, in 2015, she asked me to accompany her which I was thrilled to do. Through some strange twist of fate, she had 40 minutes alone in the King’s Chamber of the Great Pyramid at Giza and she took the opportunity to sing. If you’ve ever been there you’ll know that the quietest whisper becomes a sophisticated echo of sound. As the rest of our group ascended the steep steps to join her, she sounded like a choir of angels. It was truly wonderful.



Mum had another near-death-experience when she was 75 in the form of a car accident. She was driving back from a Spiritual workshop in Laxey. It was quite late, around 11 pm. Just before the sharp bend on the Penny Pot Road she veered over a small hedge, turned one and a half times in mid-air, landing on the car roof and driver’s side. It was pitch black. She’d put a large torch in the car that day for the first time. Her handbag, which held her phone, had scattered its contents, so she couldn’t call for help. Somehow she managed to get out of the car on the passenger’s side; and scramble up the hill to the road, torch firmly gripped in one hand. When she got to the road she waved the torch at the heavens and shouted: “God! Angels! Any bugger! I need help now!” At that very moment, a car appeared around the bend and came to her rescue. In the cold light of day, when Dad went to look at the car, still on its roof, he could see how close to the edge Mum would have been when she crawled out. One step in the wrong direction and she would have fallen a very long way.


At the time of Dad’s passing in 2017, it was obvious to the family that Mum was not very well. Her memory lapses were more apparent and frequent and the confusion intrinsic to those who suffer the symptoms of Dementia, were harder for her to disguise. It was at this time that daycare was offered and she happily accepted. She was picked up and dropped off at Peel Day Care Centre, two or three times a week, she loved the camaraderie and delicious lunches they offered.


At this stage of her life when she was living on her own, when Bob and I were still travelling with work, she was blessed with a multitude of kind and generous support. One essential Godsend came in the shape of Sweep, her gorgeous rescue Black and White Collie. He was Dad’s dog first and gave him an amazing lift in his toughest moments. Sweep was a very nervous dog but was dedicated to Mum once she became his partner-in-crime. She used to say ”I’m never alone with Sweep and he’s got Eddie’s lovely brown eyes.” Mum’s wonderful neighbour Jill Gore was also a fabulous friend and steady support. Mum often voiced how safe she felt due to such a thoughtful and loving neighbour as Jill, who spent many months helping Maggie with the shopping and was always just over the hedge if there was a problem, or even if there wasn’t, they used to like putting the world to rights. And in a delightful turn of events Jill has adopted Sweep into her home. Sweep is extremely happy. Mum would be too.


On Monday nights, Mum loved having tea with Colin, Rachel and the family. And on Fridays, Diane would meet Mum and Aunty Sheila in town for a bit of shopping, a chat and a cuppa. Once Sheila had passed, we continued the Friday Experience, as it came to be known, with Diane. Our favourite thing after our cuppa was, going to TKMaxx and getting Mum to try on the most outrageous clothes in the shop. She strutted like a Cat Walk Model, turning everyone’s heads as we howled with laughter.


Another great support and comfort to Mum were Friday night dinners with our cousin Alan and his wife Clare. I’m not sure when this started but when Mum was on her own at Lyngarth, they brought her gorgeous homemade meals and spent the evening together. Then, when Bob and I were around we took turns cooking. It was a fun and lovely evening that Bob and I really appreciated too and we know Mum always looked forward to seeing them. Clare remembers asking Mum one night: “Can you do the jive Maggie?” and she said “Oh no, not now, I’ve just had me tea!”.


Then came 2020 when the world turned upside down. Bob and I came back from Australia earlier than planned, before the borders here were closed, so Mum wasn’t alone, but we hadn’t expected to be here still, 4 years later! Mum’s years of so-called “mild cognitive impairment”  was officially diagnosed as Alzheimer’s and Vascular Dementia in July 2020. It was a strange, painful but also, often hilarious rollercoaster ride, and we are so grateful to have been able to care for her through some of the hardest moments of her life. We would like to acknowledge the much-appreciated and necessary assistance from Jeanette Hogg and The Admiral Nurse service, whose work with people with Dementia and their carers is amazing, also the Hospice volunteers who do a beautiful service of companionship, allowing carers a few precious hours away from those they are caring for - with special mention to Val Douglas. And a beautiful monthly Art experience with Faith Berry, held real joy and value for Mum, also made possible through the generosity of Hospice. And of course the continued much-needed stimulus and support, until last summer, from Peel and Ramsey Daycare services. Without these dedicated people, life would have been much more difficult. So thank you.


Mum had a fall in February 2023 when she broke her shoulder. This was a challenging time and marked the start of a steady decline in her overall physical health.


In October 2023, Mum was accepted into full-time care at Reayrt Skyal, a dedicated Dementia Home in Ramsey. She received wonderful care there and enjoyed a renaissance of sorts. She loved having so many people to chat with and make laugh. She never lost her sense of humour. But there was no denying the ravages of Alzheimer’s and a continued decline in her general health.


Mum had another fall and spent the last week of her life in Nobles Hospital. Diane, Colin and Rachel did an amazing job at a challenging time, keeping her connected to the love we all felt for her, through that last hurdle.


Mum passed peacefully on May 18th.


Please take this time to contemplate your own connection to Maggie while I sing Songbird. Thank you.


Songbird


The Committal:


We give love and thanks to have been a part of Maggie’s extraordinary life and know she will be reunited with her beloved Eddie as she journeys into the light, to be with her Ancestors. May they lovingly and gracefully lead her back home.


Diamond’s Are Forever - Shirley Bassey


The Prayer - Celine Dion and Andrea Bocelli


Thank you for dropping by to see how I'm getting on. I really appreciate your time and kind support. Normal services resume this month. Promise. Sending you all much love and thanks - as always.


Till next time, stay well and keep rising above the turbulence.


Christine xx








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13 Comments


pafc.richardson
Jun 23

What a beautiful video of your mums life. laughed out loud at some of the photos and clips! I also get pleasure from tending my plants/flowers and a lot fewer vegetables/ fruits than you (but makes me happy too)

Looking forward to your Nov gig at the Bury Met and would love to hear one of the following if possible 1. "Can't cry hard enough" 2. “For a dancer” or 3. “We're not over yet”

Good luck with the tour!

P.S love your alliums!! Gorgeous

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Christine Collister
Christine Collister
Jun 24
Replying to

Aha found it! Thanks again for posting in several places :-) x it all matters! Much love x Christine x

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Ky Gandy
Ky Gandy
Jun 05

Sorry about your mum Christine. As you say she is at peace now. I always read your newsletters, and intend to message, but had to this time. Take care to you and Bob. Ky

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Christine Collister
Christine Collister
Jun 24
Replying to

Bless you Ky! It's lovely to hear from you. Hope your world is full and brimming with delights. Much love x Christine x

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Giulietta Cinque
Giulietta Cinque
Jun 02

A beautiful telling of a life well lived. A joy to read every word. Like Massimo below, it also makes me think of my Mum who left us to be with my Dad in November 2020. Hugs. x

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Christine Collister
Christine Collister
Jun 24
Replying to

Bless you Guilietta and thanks. Sorry it's taken me so long to reply! I fogot how to get into the reply bit of the website! Thanks again I really appreciate your kind words ❤️🙏❤️

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paddieu
Jun 02

What a superb eulogy - congratulations on holding it all together to accomplish it, along with the remarkable music choices :-)


Thinking of you muchly on this next stage of your journey, and wishing you eagles, wolves, angels, or 'any bugger' on that path :-) xx

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Christine Collister
Christine Collister
Jun 02
Replying to

Bless you, paddieu! You made me smile :-) x thank you ❤️

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Massimo Pulleghini
Massimo Pulleghini
Jun 02

A great mom for a fantastic family. you have made me remember my mom's life and death (31/05/2020). I love you all.

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Christine Collister
Christine Collister
Jun 24
Replying to

Thank you Massimo. Sorry, it's taken so long to reply - I forgot how to get into the comments bit of the website where I can reply as myself ... c'est la vie! Sending much love your way ❤️ I always appreciate your kindness x


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