Yellow tinged sunlight dappled through the creeper one autumnal afternoon. They had brought Mary out to enjoy one of the last warm days before the weather changed. She could hear the happy calls of her grandchildren playing. In the distance she could distinctly see one of the girls hanging upside down from the branches of the old cherry tree her white bloomers on display for all to see. On the lawn two young cousins were racing. "I won," called one jubilantly as he stumbled over their imaginary finishing line.
"I won second," yelled the loser.
As Marilla had cared for Mary when she was unwell and through each confinement so too did Mary care for Marilla when time finally caught up with her. Only the vagaries of old age could stop Marilla Cuthbert; the once proud woman was irritated when she was forced to slow down. Some might have been wounded by Marilla's sharp tongue, but Mary understood that it was borne from frustration and she tended to the elderly lady calmly, helping her to maintain her dignity for as long as possible.
When she was finally called home, Marilla slipped easily from this world to the next with her extended family around Anne and Mary wept in each other's arms by the graveside, but it was the sweet sorrow of a life well lived rather than a tragic loss of one gone too soon. Still Mary missed Marilla's wise words and sometimes found herself speaking to her still. Her old friend seemed very close now as Mary felt her life ebbing away, as if she were just on the edge of her peripheral vision.
They had moved into Green Gables after Marilla passed, the larger home suiting them, though Bash had to add a new wing on the back to accommodate their growing family.
"Granny," one of Mary's many granddaughters stood in front of her thrusting a handful of hastily plucked flowers in her face. "I gots you some fowers," the infant said.
"Give them to me, sweetheart," Delphine interceded. "Let Granny rest."
"She's always sleeping," said the child petulantly, Mary wasn't exactly sure which one she was. "That's because she's been busy all her life. When you've had as full a life as Granny you're allowed to sleep in the afternoon," Delphine explained. "Come and help me find a vase to put them in." Mary watched them move away and smiled, her Delphine was such a treasure.
When war broke out all those years ago, Mary and Bash thanked the good Lord above none of their offspring were old enough to go; though they grew more alarmed as the years went by that Elijah's son, Matthew might be old enough. Thankfully the war ended when he was still sixteen. Mary wondered if privately the boy was upset or relieved, but she never asked, and he never divulged. Their little town was haunted by the spectres of those they had lost and those who returned who were never quite the same.
Mary wakes in the night, she is not alone. She is never alone. Bash is there gently snoring beside her as he has always done. She thinks back to her second pregnancy, how envious she was. Her being older than he never troubled them when they were younger, but it has caught up with them now, he is still spry while she is nearing the end of her life.
He laughed at her the first time he found a grey hair in her hair, but now he is grey too. His beard is grizzled, and he walks with a stoop, but he is still younger than her. She knows he will be looked after and that makes her happy. Delphine and her family will never desert him and of course his lifelong friends Anne and Gilbert will always be there. Mary adores them with all her heart. Gilbert is a rare man who accepted Bash and later her as his brother and sister. They talked about it once, Mary thanked him for bringing them together and in turn he thanked them for bringing his home back to life. And then there is Anne, the woman Mary has come to regard as her sister. Anne's upbeat outlook on life is infectious. She has not been spared from trouble. Starting of course with her difficult beginning and then their loss of Joy. Mary knew only too well that particular heartbreak. Bash shifts slightly in his sleep and she looks at him fondly, how lucky they have been living their long life together.
That Marilla is there also does not surprise Mary; she has been hovering in the background for a few days now. She shines radiantly in the dark room her golden hair creating a halo, looking younger than when Mary first knew her. Marilla gazes lovingly at Mary, "ready now?" she asks gently. "You weren't before, but now I think perhaps it's time. Your parents are there and little Seb is waiting for his mother's arms to embrace him once again. There will be no pain, only happiness." Mary feels lighter than air, she rises and takes Marilla's hand and together they slip into the golden light.