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Reminiscences of Cromar and Canada
Chapter XXIII - A Generation Passes


IN the spring of 1882, grand-father Stewart was called away in the full maturity of his years and as a shock of corn cometh in his season. Death is ever a parting and associated with sadness, but, in the case of a good man whose work is done, there rises above the dirge the note of hope and the song of triumph. His remains rest in the churchyard of Coldstone beside those of his wife who had passed hence twelve years before him.

Near the same time, passed away old Uncle James Stewart, whose coming to Canada has already been noted. His wife, whose gentle ways made her much beloved, had preceded him on that last journey. Their daughter Mrs. Thompson of Toronto, and Mrs. Fraser of Whitby, whose kindly ministries had cheered their parents to the last, followed them all too soon. Thus passed, not only the older, but two of the younger generation as well.

My own mother did not long survive. Her health had been good, and she had shown no special symptoms of declining powers, but she was cut off suddenly by pneumonia, passing to her final rest in her seventieth year, on the first day of April 1885.

During the year 1887 my father retired from the farm and made his home with William with whom he continued to live during the remainder of his days. Later in the same year, accompanied by my sister Maggie, he visited our native place in Cromar. The twenty-one years that had passed since he left the old home had brought many changes and not a little sadness, yet he was pleased with the visit and came back greatly refreshed. It was a surprise to all the family that he managed so well to adjust himself to the ways of a retired life. The manse garden and the minister's horse were at once adopted as his special charge, and both were well attended to. His taste for reading which had been largely suppressed during the first years of our Canadian residence was revived. In history and biography, which were his favorite fields, he tackled voluminous works and read them with intelligence and pleasure, though their contents did not long remain in his memory. With his mind thus refreshed he retained to a good old age much of his youthful spirit, and made many friends both in Dover and Claude. It was not till the autumn of 1884 that an attack of paralysis left him enfeebled in mind and body. That experience however was only a matter of a few months and it is easy to look over that short period of eclipse to the bright and happy 'lays that preceded. He died on the fourth of July 1895, and was buried in the Stewart burying ground in Tilbury East, beside the remains of my mother.

Possibly, if judged by present standards, my father might be considered rather stern and unyielding in his discipline, but no parent could be more tender with his children especially when there was trouble, or more interested in their welfare. To his grand-children he was all smiles. His opinions were firmly held and forcibly expressed. He practised little of the art of suiting the tone of his sentiment to the taste of the listening car. Considering the meagre education which he got as a boy, his attainments were marvellous, and I sometimes wonder if any of his sons have as much to testify of progress achieved.

In now taking leave of both my parents, it gives nic great satisfaction to be able to give my humble testimony to the excellency of their character and to the high example which they daily set before us. Frequently would my father repeat his own father's dying injunction "Fear God an' gang the richt gact an' a' greed will atten' ye."

Mother, in her own quiet way, was not less solicitious for our moral rectitude and spiritual development. She was strict in her discipline and did all in her power to train her little charges in habits of industry, not only in the home and on the farm, but also in their school studies. She took pleasure in having us read aloud to her our children's stories while she would be busy sewing or knitting, and was never too busy to respond to our many demands on her time and attention. In regard to the preparation of our lessons for Sunday School she was most particular. For memorising Psalms and scripture texts, I had no great facility, and I fear, no great inclination, and I doubt not that she had a hard job to keep me up to standard. Often, if not regularly, she would get me into a separate apartment by myself of a Saturday afternoon and would not give me liberty to retire until I could properly recite my assigned portion. Under such supervision, I memorized large portions of Scripture which today I find a treasure never failing.


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