I wrote the following tribute to be read at my mother's funeral last week. I couldn't read it myself, as I would have gotten too emotional. However, the music director at the church read it for me. And many of those who were able to attend the service came up to me afterward to express how much it had touched them. It's not everything that could have been said of my mother, but I feel it does capture a bit of the heart of her.
Music was woven deeply into the life of Marion Beach. Her father, a Presbyterian minister, chose to do his service in Trinidad, and so the joyful rhythms of calypso made one melody line in her life, and made her interested in – and open to – music of all sorts, the world round.
She majored in music in college, focusing primarily on church music. After college she returned to Trinidad, where she met John Edward Beach, the man she would be married to for nearly fifty years.
Throughout her life she was engaged in church music. As a choir member she sang alto, but she also had been a choir director and organist.
What mattered to her was whether or not the music was good, not whether it was a particular style or genre. She gave equal attention to the music of the Beatles and the music of Bach.
Such was her love of music-making that one year her husband bought her a used pipe organ. That’s true romance for you! The adventures of disassembling it and transporting it to her home in Jackson, Michigan, made for several amusing family legends. And he did intend to make it functional for her, but the family’s move to Texas precluded that.
He had also used his skills as an electrical engineer to build her an electronic organ, with two keyboards and a full pedalboard, so she would have something suitable to practice on. And he loved to hear her play.
More than anything, music was the language of Marion’s life. But it was followed closely by laughter, which is a kind of music.
If music was woven into Marion’s life, so she is now woven into music, and nothing would delight her more.