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Janet Mackay - Obituary

Janet MacKay: 1941-1999

The death of Janet Mackay occurred at her home in Halifax, Nova Scotia after a brief illness.

Born Ruby Janet MacKay she was the only child of Robert D. MacKay and Carrie Thompson of Balmoral Mills and Pictou N.S.

She attended schools in Balmoral Mills and was an outstanding scholar and graduate of Pictou Academy. Janet subsequently graduated with a BSc with Honours in Mathematics from Queen’s and Dalhousie Universities.

She then joined the staff of the Halifax Chronicle Herald for which she wrote many articles of interest to Nova Scotians.

A devoted member of the Clan MacKay Society of new Scotland, Janet was Society President at the time of her death.

Among many other qualities, Janet will be remembered as a quiet, thoughtful and private person who worked faithfully and diligently with her colleagues.

Cousin of Sam MacKay of Ottawa, Neil MacKay of Tampa, Florida, the late John (Jock) MacKay, Mary MacKay (MacIntosh) of Chelsea, Quebec, and Jean MacKay (Chubb) of Montreal.

Her many friends and family members who knew her over the years will miss her wit and humour.

(Written by Samuel A. MacKay, age 90.)

A note from Alastair McIntyre

I first met Janet on the ILink network in the days when BBS's were the norm and the web had yet to see the light of day.  She was always an enthusiastic writer of messages and through our many emails with each other she created the character of Hamish the Haggis. 

With her vivid imagination she eventually created the chapters you see in here and had intended for him to come to Scotland after his many farewell trips around Nova Scotia.  I am sure this would have grown to the point where she could have produced a book from the series and am sorry that she was unable to finish this work.  We got so many letters of appreciation of her writing as well as many who told me they'd learned more about Nova Scotia from reading her stories.

Having met Janet in person when she came to my home in Scotland I have lost a valued friend but will have many warm memories of her.

A tribute to Janet

I thought it would be appropriate to forward the following tribute delivered at her funeral by the Reverend Ivan Jesperson, a good friend of my father and me and the minister of the little country United Church near our country home at Mont Ste Marie, Quebec.
Janet died on or about February 12, 1999 of heart failure at her home in Halifax.
Her E-Mails could be forwarded to my address:
Yours Sincerely,
Sandy MacKay

Memorial for Janet MacKay
February 24th, 1999
J.A. Snow Funeral Home (1985) Ltd.
Halifax, Nova Scotia
Conducted by the Reverend Ivan F. Jesperson
Minister of Aylwin Pastoral Charge
The United Church of Canada
Kazabazua, Quebec.
Only just a few days ago the telephone rang. It was Sandy MacKay. "Ivan," he said, "my father's cousin has passed away. How would you and Mollie like to drive to Halifax with Dad and me?"  It didn't occur to me at that time I had met Janet, but as we began the 15 hour drive to Halifax I realized I had met her several times. Not face to face, nor by fax or phone, but via the Internet. During the past several months Sandy had been forwarding weekly intervals of her wit, humour, and insight. I didn't know then she was the author and source of those electronic epistles, but as soon as Sandy made that known, I suddenly felt I knew her. The breadth, depth, and sincerity of e-mail forwarded by Sandy had unknowingly introduced me to Janet MacKay. Little did I realize so much joy, insight and
good humour was coming from one who was fraught with illness, loneliness, and need. Speeding down the highway, as I thought of those letters, I felt the presence of a mind sparkling with intelligence, a love richer and deeper than Bill Gates pockets, and a vision far exceeding the humble circumstances of her life. Yes, I had met Janet MacKay, via the Internet, and what an honour and a privilege it was!

Now, as a Clergyman, it would be usual  for me to begin a Memorial Service with the words of Jesus, "I am the resurrection and the life," but for Janet MacKay. I would like to take another leaf from Jesus' ministry. He often used things he had seen, common things, to express important truths, and something I saw last week, in retrospect, taught me many truths about Janet MacKay.

It was 5 o'clock in the evening. The sun fallen below the horizon. Any time now, a small herd of deer would come in view. They did that every evening, for my friend, a farmer, had deposited pockets of oats in the snow for them to eat.  We watched from within the farmer's house. Within minutes of five p.m. the deer appeared. There were eight in all, one that seemed the leader, and seven others. The leader approached a fence between them and the oats. It circled once or twice, and moved to the right and left, feeling for a firm footing in the deep snow to make its leap over the fence. Not so the others. With seeming haste, they leapt at the fence, loosing upward thrust as their hind feet sunk deep in the snow. Each landed awkwardly, stranding the fence between hind quarters and fore. Not the leader. Only when it's hind hooves felt terra firma did its front quarters life high and its body gracefully glide over the fence.

* Lesson number one: Be certain of your footing before making a leap. You who are listening to me now knew Janet MacKay far better than I, but I suspect you will agree with me - Janet measured well before she jumped into anything. Better to delay commitment, till you're sure where your feet will land. Janet had that quality. She never had to be first. More important to be sound. Once over the fence, the seven followed the leader. As a crow flies they were about a thousand feet from the oats. They disappeared. Five minutes passed, and not a sight. Wary of hunters, fearful of wolves, the leading deer had chosen low depressions and shallow gullies to edge towards the food. Neither need nor greed had hastened the leader to the goal, nor exposed its own kind to danger.

* Lesson number two: Show caution where dangers lurk;   and think of those who may follow you.  Nothing Janet MacKay ever did revealed a personal motive. She held as sacred the trust others placed in her. The Clan was more important that the Crown! Finally, the deer emerged from the low depressions and shallow gullies. They were within ten or twenty feet of the golden oats. They drew slowly towards their evening meal. Their noses were pulled down by the smell of food while their ears peaked high by the sound of danger. Like blocks of ice, the deer froze still, motionless, unmoving, muscles cemented, yet ready to sprint. A barnyard cat walked calmly and randomly where oats lay still. Though dwarfed by  deer, the cat's calm demure and bold familiarity held the dear at bay till its curiosity was satisfied. As the cat finally sauntered away the deer closed in and savoured the feast. Their patience had been rewarded.

* Lesson number three: Providence is often thwarted by unexpected interventions. Hold steady to your purpose and be true to your calling. Janet MacKay could be relied upon to hold firm in the midst of contest. She never flinched in haste nor jumped in fear. With steadfast resolve and purposeful intent, she remained steadfast and true to what she believed. When the prize was honourable, she stood ground with the clan to claim the reward. And finally, there was yet one more thing to learn from these beautiful animals of the forest. When once the obstacles were overcome and the prize was won, they rested not on their laurels and let down their guard. As they ate the golden oats from the frozen snow, their heads sprung up like lightning with ears peaked high and eyes searching far for sights and sounds of inherent danger. Even the farmer who gave the meal yet triggered the gun which claimed their kind each fall. That was life in its rawest form - being nurtured by the reaper whose hand held sway over life and death.

*lesson number four: go on living expecting the best, though around you abounds potential for the worst. Janet MacKay knew her vulnerability and her dependence upon others and God. She knew life held no guarantees and health no permanence. Even friends may waver and faith be broken - but that did not diminish her natural talent to survey the landscape and guard the good and true. She was a leader to the end!

Yes, it is true that Janet MacKay did not race ahead for her own advantage, nor put at risk those who entrusted her, or break faith with her own standards. or give up the fight in the pitch of battle!  She carried on to the end with a smile on her lips though there be a pain in her heart. She was one of the poor who suffered for righteousness and longed for peace. Janet would wear no self-styled crown till its glory was shared by all. She was an honourable person, the very kind Jesus was proud to enlist as disciples. We should never judge only those as Christ's people who fill the church, for in his own words Jesus said, "Tis he or she who hears my words, and does them, that loves me!" And from every e-mail I ever read that Janet MacKay wrote, or any word I ever heard another speak about her, I can say with joy in my heart, Janet MacKay was  a cherished person who loved her Maker. She defended his turf, even while her life was in the shadows of death.

And now, dear friends, I ask you to reflect upon your own good memories of Janet MacKay as Alexander (Sandy) MacKay reads in her honour the Twenty-third Psalm:

Sandy MacKay, the 23rd Psalm:

And as an additional tribute to our mutual friend, I invite Fred Desjardins to share his tribute to Janet:

Mr. Desjardins, A Tribute to Janet.

And finally, there are also some of you who have selected treasured epistles from Janet's electronic mail. Whether she authored them herself, or simply deemed them worthy repeating, I invite you now to share them with us:
1. Mary MacCara Reid,  e-mail selections and a tribute.
2. Bill McKay, Selections of Janet's e-mails and a tribute.
3. Allen Thompson, a tribute.
4. Sandy MacKay, Selections of Janet's E-Mails and a tribute.

Thank you, friends of Janet, for bringing her presence once more into our midst. Through these letters her spirit will live with us always, and with her in memory, we will be made better persons.

Will you please join me in prayer:

O God, from whom are nurtured the souls of all those who share your gifts, we
praise you for caring and courageous people of every age who have loved thee in life, and continued faithful unto death. Especially do we bless you for Janet MacKay, whom we now remember before thee. For all your loving kindness towards her throughout her earthly life, and all you have accomplished through her, we give thee thanks.  O merciful God, consolation of the sorrowful and support of the weary, come now with warm spirit and tender love to all those whose joy is seasoned with sadness, so that while we mourn, we may also remember thy mercies, promises, and love in Christ. Help us to yield ourselves to thee who bringest life out of death, and canst turn our present grief into eternal joy. O Lord our God, who knowest the way that we all must go; guide us on our journey and grant that we may also run with courage the race that is set before us, and in thine own time in thy great mercy, may be brought to the glory of thine eternal kingdom.  Support us all the day long of this troublous life, until the shadows lengthen, the evening comes, the busy world is hushed,  the fever of life is over and our work is done. Then, in thy tender mercy, grant us rest from our labours, life once more in thy presence,  and a commission to work again for thy Kingdom. For with Jesus we shall continue to pray:

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed by thy name,
thy kingdom come,
thy will be done,
on earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our trespasses
as we forgive those who trespass against us,
and lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory,
for ever and ever. Amen.

And now, as we lift Janet MacKay in prayer to the care of God, and to the hope of continuing life with meaning and purpose, let us sing the beloved Amazing Grace.

Amazing Grace.

And now may the peace of God, which passeth understanding, keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God, and of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, and the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be upon you and remain with you always. Amen.



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