May at Windermere.

So far, then, I have attempted to describe the background of May's life, with special notice of the characters with whom she was brought in contact: and I have written as an eye-witness. I prefer my histories so. This is not the place to enlarge on our individual family annals, concerning which doubtless many volumes might be written. We had our joys and sorrows, our troubles and our days of ease: and we always had a faithful loving friend in May. She would come at once in the event of any call for help. Trouble seemed to vanish into thin air when she brought her calm and confident wisdom and commonsense to our aid. It was not for nothing that all the MacIvers adopted her and called her by the affectionate sobriquet of 'Gran'. It was thus that Mother became Great-Gran.

From the time when they went to live in Windermere until the end of her life, May devoted herself to Mother, and was her companion and faithful help to the end. But May was happy in her self-denying devotion, though it might have been better for her health had she been able to visit friends and spend more time with others. And there is no doubt that Mother was happy too, and came to rely more and more on May as she grew older and crippled and helpless.

For many years they took holidays in Scotland, at Dornoch, at Aviemore and in Galloway. They took a cruise to Norway, going as far North as Hammerfert and the North Cape and the land of the Midnight Sun. As long as Mother was active, they explored the Lake Diatrict on foot and then by car. Then Mother became an invalid, and May devoted her whole time to nursing and cheering and comforting her. She would read to her long hours every day, and watched over her as if she were Mother, and Mother daughter. She found distraction in the beautiful garden at Hermitage, and in dogs, so long as they could keep on. Both Mother and May were devoted to the Church, and for years went regularly to Bowness, up and down the long steep hill. It was only a little way to Matson Ground, where they spent many happy hours; and now and again we would get glimpses of them at Wanlass, where every holiday was spent. When Wanlass days were over, and Mother grew older and more feeble, I went regularly to see them at Hermitage, and what a loving welcome I always received, and how they spoiled me.

Those visits were very precious. May would greet me on the doorstep and, when the two or three days of companionship were gone, I always found it a wrench to leave them and go away. I often wondered how many more times the privilege of a visit to Hermitage would be repeated. At last, poor May broke down, with the strain and anxiety which bore too heavily on her frail constitution. She began to lose her memory, and gradually became helpless and dependent - she on whom, all our lives, we had depended for strength and sympathy and love. Some keep their faculties to the last: with many others dissolution is slow and an often painful process. It is a mystery, but when at last and many months before she died, May could no longer respond to the voices of those who loved her, I think, with absolute reverence, that the Silver Cord was loosed and her spirit had gone home to God.

G.H.J. Jan 1948.

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