May 6 /16
My dear George
I have delayed writing to you till today as I know one or two of the girls had sent letters, now I feel I should like to tell you something of the happenings of this sad week. I hope you got my wire despatched very early on Monday, we never had any real hope of your being able to come over but just sent on the chance. We did the same with Arthur but he wired “leave unobtainable” and meant Mary to represent him at the funeral, but there was some hitch in sending the wire and she did not turn up to our great disappointment, we have now wired her to see if she can come for the Sunday services and shall know later on. I know dear boy how much you will feel being unable to follow your dear Mother to her resting place, but it was a great happiness to her to have seen you this year and that you should have been able to bring Rosie down here. Ours is no common loss. Your dear Mother was such a devoted wife, I could never feel fully worthy of such a deep spiritual nature, our married life was supremely happy, troubles of course we had, but we shared them mutually and no cloud ever passed over our domestic felicity – how could it with one like her. What her children owe to her I need not tell them, they may indeed “rise up and call her blessed”:
“Happy he with such a Mother! Faith in womankind
Beats with his blood, and trust in all things high
Comes easy to him.”
We were glad Jack was able to come down for two or three days; he was the soul of kindness in his own quiet way. Arthur wrote me a nice touching letter. There has hardly been time yet for one to come through from you and for poor old Cyril’s we shall have to wait some weeks. The dear girls are a great comfort to me and Mela too is quite a daughter. Kathleen and Juliet leave on Monday and Aunt Lottie too, Uncle Fred came and returned on Thursday. I shall get back to business on Monday and shall be better for occupying myself in the daily round. I think Kathleen has given you some details of your Mother’s illness, looking back one can see how she gradually faded away though I think I rather shut my eyes to it and fondly hoped she would pick up her strength with the better weather, she seemed to get over her little attack earlier in the year, but then we found her often getting breathless so got the doctor in again. He found the muscles of the heart weak and the pulse consequently too quick and prescribed some daily exercises which seemed to be having the desired effect. On Easter Sunday, the doctor having said she had not better attempt Church, Kathleen and I joined, in what was to be her last communion in a celebration in her room, the elements being brought over direct from the midday Church service. In the afternoon Jack took her a long ride in a bath chair, beyond the top of Horsebridge Hill, she so enjoyed it and in seeing the fruit blossom. Easter Monday was wet and cold, she stayed indoors. The following days were quite hot and on Wednesday Juliet took her for a ride (her last one) as far as Knowle Hill and she spent the earlier part of the evening downstairs. On Thursday she seemed to have taken a little cold, how we cannot tell, so she remained upstairs and sat out in the afternoon on a nice reclining cane chair which Kathleen had given her, it was such a warm sunny day and she enjoyed looking out of the window upon the lawn. During all this time she was taking food very well and at frequent intervals. The doctor was due on Saturday but we thought it better to get him down on Friday when he found she had contracted a little bronchitis not in itself alarming but serious in the feeble state of her heart. Henceforth she was kept to her bed. On Saturday we though her rather better after a good night but wired for Mela to come on Monday to help nurse, she was at Folkestone. You may imagine we had not then thought of immediate danger as we did not wire for May till Sunday afternoon, she was at Budleigh Salterton and was to join Mela at Eastbourne in a day or two. Sunday morning the doctor was evidently anxious as to whether the heart would stand the strain for a week or more while the bronchitis was clearing and said he would come down again in the afternoon to inject digitalis and help the heart action. I went up to Evesham after tea to get something from the chemist and on returning to go to church, she rather wanted me to go as her name was being mentioned in the prayers. I went up and found her brighter and as I kissed her and was leaving the room she smiled and waved her hand to me. Up to this day I had looked after her at night and the girls had decided to sit up by turns during Sunday night, but finding we could get a trained nurse pending Mela’s arrival, we arranged accordingly and she arrived a little after 8 pm. Mother spoke to her and said she recognized her strong likeness to her sister, Nurse Beesley. On my return from church, Kathleen came down and said she seemed sleeping nicely so I would not go up and disturb her and subsequently as she did not appear quite awake I thought it better to wait. Soon after 9 pm the nurse suggested she would like the doctor to come again and give her instructions for the night and we were sending for him when Kathleen fetched me up hurriedly, the heart had failed and I was only in time to see two slight spasms of the lips and all was over at 9.20, so calm and peaceful without a struggle, indeed she may have been said to have passed away in sleep, she had been conscious almost to the last. As I and the three girls knelt about her bed, all traces of the slightly worn face seemed to vanish and she assumed the most lovely angel face that could be imagined, it struck us all with a peaceful awe and will remain as a vivid impression as long as we live, that intensely beautiful expression only lasted an hour or two but she looked beautiful during the succeeding days and remained so till the coffin was closed at the very last. Everybody has been most kind from the Vicar downwards. We got him to come in shortly after her death and say a few suitable prayers; every subsequent evening and on Thursday morning we repaired to her room for prayers, reading a few suitable psalms and collects. Photographs of you three absent boys were placed on the little table by her side so that you too should be present in a way. All the villagers have been so nice and it is touching to find how her sweet influence had impressed them all during these many years. The morning of the funeral opened very wet but it cleared after midday and although dull remained fine overhead. I will post you a paper which will give you a little account of the funeral which was a most reverent and impressive ceremony, we hope soon to send you a photograph of the grave, covered with the numerous and lovely wreaths. She lies near Mrs Savory’s grave, a trifle nearer the tower and a little nearer the path, I think it is a spot she would have liked. She has left a few little wishes dated three years ago, she wished you to have a little locket and also a gold chain which I now wear and which she wishes me to retain while I live. I daresay the girls will tell you about what they have and also the other boys. With much love my dear George.
I remain your affectionate Father
Her dear sweet influence will always abide with us.