The Passing of Margaret

By JB

For more than four months she had borne pain, weakness and extreme weariness with a calm determined courage that was a marvel to all who visited her in the bare hospital ward. And now she has passed beyond the veil to the great unknown. Up to the very last, her mind and brain were as clear as ever, and her interest in humanity never waned.

She could discuss matters of general import as keenly as when in her usual state of health, and although of late her waning strength was telling its tale in her flushed cheek and eye that lacked its usual brilliance, her voice was as strong as ever. It must have been a case of the mind triumphing over bodily weakness.

It fell to my lot to collect Margaret’s few personal belongings at the hospital, less than 12 hours after she had passed away. How characteristic of her was it, that the last book she had read was Robert Smillie’s “My Life For Labour.” I could not help thinking that her’s was a life spent in labour — labour for the betterment of her fellows and how often at the expense of that strength which she should have husbanded with greater care!

Many a time has she gone long distances to engage in public work, lectures, executive committees and the like, when obviously unfit. Her high sense of duty would not allow her to give in or omit even the smallest part of the work she undertook. Her strength of character often caused many to mistake her motives, and her staunch attitude towards correct procedure in business matters was often a trial to a few. But even these were, in the end, among those who could not but admire such sterling qualities as she possessed.

Under the somewhat cold exterior there was an extremely sympathetic nature, and gratitude for trifling personal attentions was one of her chief characteristics. How often one finds this lacking now-a-days, and how much one values it when it is spontaneous as in her case.

One has often heard it said that until trouble comes you never know how many friends you possess— at least real friends. It was in the hospital ward on visiting days that they were to be found, so many of them in fact that their visits were almost too much for the patient. The end came peacefully and somewhat unexpectedly, although on my last visit, only two days before, I noticed slight changes in look and manner and a tendency to dwell on the early part of her life.

“I often picture,” she said, “the little bed where as little kiddies Bob and I used to sleep, and where mother used to come and tuck us up. I have no one to tuck me up now,” she added, somewhat regretfully.

My visit was really made to arrange for her removal to a nursing home where she would have more of the little personal attentions, she required; and which in a busy, understaffed hospital, were not forthcoming. She was quite keen about it, and after I left, wrote out a list of things which she sent next day to her landlady and which she required for her contemplated move.

The next day she had passed away — may we hope to labour in another and more congenial sphere of activity apart from the clogging influence of this mortal body.

JB

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