Mary Angus MacLean

16 January 1965 - 13 November 2008

Official Date of Death, 05 January 2009

Mary was born in the Queen Mother Maternity Hospital in Glasgow. For many years our parents, Jenny and Angus, kept up the pretence that I had been the one to choose her, going with the nursery and picking the one I wanted from amongst the screaming babies. No doubt I was guided by the steady hand of a nurse, but I chose well. Mary gets her name from my maternal grandmother, Mary Angus, and to balance this she got my father's inherited characteristics from the Hebrides, more than I did, and could be dour as a child and early photographs show a frowning little girl who hated getting her picture taken and could not be cajoled into a smile at all. As children we fought often and sulked with each other - on one occasion I gave all her dolls a crew cut so they could go off to fight with my Action Man. I don't remember her crying, but she continued to play with her skinhead dolls, I am sure to make me feel bad. Our parents, knowing us too well, bought us matching pink prams, mini ironing boards and irons so we would not fight. Mary went to St Machan's in Lennoxtown, the nearest primary school where I was already in attendance and then off to St Ninian's in Kirkintilloch. Our parents wanted the best for her and agreed that her sixth year should be spent at Langside College, where she blossomed not only academically but socially too. Langside is in the very south of the city of Glasgow and it was a two hour journey each way for that year. It was there that she gained enough confidence and examination passes to get a place at teacher training college in Bearsden, where she spent an enjoyable four years. It was whilst going through the application medical for training college that it was discovered that she was diabetic, and shortly after that coeliac, so the meals at college had to take into account her problems there. Oftentimes I went up to cook for her, bringing goodies from home. She loved the freedom of student life and studied hard and played hard. It was at that stage that I no longer considered her just my wee sister, but an adult in her own right and we often went out in a big group together, in the middle of the 1980s when music was music! Her joint 21st birthday party with her old friend Fiona was attended by Haig Gordon from STV, and if we knew the word then, we would have said Mary was a bit of a stalker, but in a nice innocent way. Graduation day came and with it the opportunity to go to Japan to teach English on a Catholic Missionary visa. Surprisingly, Mary jumped at the chance, which came as a huge shock to my parents. Within a short few months she was off to the other side of the world where her health deteriorated, as in Japan at that time the only diabetics were retired Sumo wrestlers and the insulin she got there was not the kind she had in the UK. After a few years she came back, got a job as a primary school teacher in Essex which she loved. She was Teacher of the Year in Essex on one occasion which gives me great pride, as she was an inspirational teacher. It was on her return to Glasgow that her health took yet another bad turn, this time the advanced effects of diabetes, which should only occur in geriatrics, happened to Mary and she entered a coma for some six weeks in Stobhill Hospital, barely existing. There was universal joy when she came out of it eventually, but during that time her brain had been damaged a little and her kidneys failed. Despite all that happened at that time, and the subsequent years on thrice-weekly dialysis, she was resilient. I never once heard her complain, be sad or angry about her declining health. Yes, she could be demanding, annoying and frustrating at that time, but overall she bore her burden well. In 1998 after several false attempts, Mary got the gift she wanted for Christmas, a new kidney. I had to be driven to the hospital I was so overjoyed and tearful, and within a day, her appearance and demeanour changed back to the Mary we knew. By this time she was living in Assisted Accommodation in Milton of Campsie, being looked after by a raft of services to keep her stimulated and return to normal. She had to be taught about money, how to write and how to deal with her frequent boughts of blindness. All these she bore well, because she had been given the chance to live again with the new kidney. Mary could never go back to the way she was, and lived her last years cheerfully and with a smile, finding her challenges face on and laughing at her own limitations. My last conversation with her was one, long laugh at the way she described what was going on in her life, and it made me happy on that day and will continue to do so.

We may never, ever know what happened on that day in November, but we do know that Mary is no longer struggling, no longer frustrated at her limitations and is at peace in the Land of My Forefathers, in the west. Mary will be received into the Chapel of the Convent of St Joseph, Glasgow, before her funeral on 20th January, and will travel on her last journey to Campsie High Kirk, where the bell will toll and there she will rest with my dad, looking towards the hills, like King David in the Psalm.

Some pics of Mary after this link