Some people by nature are kind and charitable. You could say that some people, including at least one person at this table, are by their nature heroes. Ben always reminded me that we each contain all the nobler and meaner aspects of humanity, but some get a bigger dose than others of one thing or another. Some are pretty, and mean, and uncharitable. That's their nature. You can hope for better, even try to lead them to better, and you may even succeed.
May and Ben Parker took in their nephew Peter after the death of his parents and raised him. Ben immediately took to the role of the boy's father but May was at first reluctant. She still remembered her parents blaming her own birth for the destruction of their marriage, and she was afraid that Peter might signal the end of her own marriage. In time, however, she warmed up to Peter, who unexpectedly strengthened the couple's marriage. After Ben's death, life became a struggle with money problems and Peter did his best to help.
Peter's secret life as Spider-Man endlessly complicated both his and his aunt's lives. Aunt May lived in constant fear for her "frail" (but now unaccountably secretive) nephew who insisted on a job as a freelance photographer. Parker was determined to capture Spider-Man in action, frequently submitting pictures of him to the Daily Bugle; Spider-Man was a vigilante whom Aunt May feared because of her unquestioning acceptance of the Daily Bugle's smearing.
Meanwhile, Peter feared for his aunt's well-being and the fatal shock that could result if she ever learned about his career as Spider-Man. Peter was often torn between dealing with a major crises while his aunt needed nearly constant care. This conflict took on a bizarre turn when Aunt May had his enemy, Doctor Otto Octavius (also known as Doctor Octopus), as an apparent sweetheart and even became ready to marry him; Peter struggled to deal with his enemy's game while not hurting his Aunt.
Aunt May has "died" several times. In her most recent "death", the "Aunt May" who died was discovered to be a "genetically-altered actress" who impersonated her while May was held captive by villains.
May finally learned about her nephew's secret life once and for all. That resulted in a heartfelt discussion in which Aunt and Nephew confessed their darkest secrets and each learned that the other was far stronger than they imagined.
After their house was destroyed, Peter, Aunt May, and Mary Jane Watson moved into Stark Towers (as Spider-Man had recently joined the New Avengers). Aunt May seemed to be developing a romantic relationship with the Avengers' butler, Jarvis. May was quite the strong-willed woman and even the hard-nosed Wolverine found it impossible to argue with her. During the superhuman Civil War, she and Mary Jane convinced Peter to reveal himself in front of a press conference, and May even made Peter a hand-stitched copy of his original costume.
After Peter joined the anti-registration forces, May was forced to leave Stark Towers. Soon, Kingpin, one of Spider-Man's frequent enemies, ordered a "hit" on the now public-identity Peter Parker. At the motel the Parker's were staying in, a sniper kept watch to eliminate Peter. However, when the sniper fired, Peter dodged, grabbing MJ out of the way. Unfortunately, Aunt May was hit by the bullet -- the bullet intended for Peter.
At the hospital she lapsed into a coma, with death likely. May received a radioactive blood transfusion from Peter, which he hoped would once again save her life due to his mutated healing factor. Although the healing factor was in his blood, the radioactivity did nothing to her system. Peter believed she had built an immunity to his blood, considering this wasn't the first time he had given blood to her.
The demon Mephisto offered to restore Aunt May's health at great personal cost to Peter; his life, and his marriage to his wife, Mary Jane. Agreeing to the terms, Mary Jane and Peter had reality altered so that May could live. Spider-Man's identity was once again a secret from her. The cost of Mephisto's offer was the erasure of Peter and Mary Jane's marriage from all memories.
Since the altering of Peter Parker's life, May was doing volunteer work for a homeless shelter, ran by the seemingly benevolent entrepreneur, Martin Li, who was in fact the super-villain crime boss, Mr. Negative. During her work at the shelter, she met John Jonah Jameson Sr, the father of J. Jonah Jameson, and started a relationship with him. Peter Parker later discovered this relationship when he caught the two of them in bed; however, he was supportive of it, as Jameson was a supporter of Spider-Man (having saved his life earlier), even if his son was not, and viewed Norman Osborn as the killer he was.
John walked with May in Central Park, and asked her to marry him, which May accepted. Despite Doctor Octopus' subconscious efforts to halt his former fiancé's wedding plans, May and John were wedded by New York Mayor J. Jonah Jameson. After the wedding, May and John embarked on a round-the-world honeymoon.
It was later revealed that Aunt May has several blood relatives that are still alive. Aunt May has a sister named Jan. May's first cousins Sam and Julia are the children of her uncle Bill and his wife Claudia. Peter was attracted to Julia's daughter Alexa. The Reilly family is currently staying in Aunt May's house.
Upon her return from her honeymoon, she stops by the FEAST offices, only to accidentally walk in on Martin Li, along with Hammerhead torturing one of Mr. Negative's Inner Demons. Trying to escape, Li touches her with his corrupting touch. She then returns to meet her husband and Peter. When John suggests going somewhere nice for dinner, Aunt May sarcastically proceeds to insult Peter over his fluctuating jobs and his dependence on them, culminating with calling her nephew "One damn big disappointment". A heartbroken Peter runs off. Peter returns, after a physically and mentally exhausting battle against the Lizard, tries talking to Aunt May, looking for someone to help give him hope after seeing the death of Curt Connors' humanity. She still continues to act like a bad-tempered teenager and at first, rebuffs him. However, after seeing Peter clearly suffering mentally, she feels guilty and undergoes an intense mind battle, breaking the corruption, and is shown simply sitting next to Peter.
Prior to the events of Spider-Island, after Martin Li's secret identity is exposed to the public, May and John formally announce their intention to leave New York for good, for their own safety, and move to Boston. John explains this was the result of all the recent major incidents towards them and their friends and family. They put May's old house up for sale and leave once the moving van is packed. After spending their last night in New York at John's apartment, the following day she and John head to an airport in New Jersey with Peter and Carlie and they say their goodbyes before flying off. Following the Ends of the Earth storyline, when May and John are returning home to New York on their private jet, but the irresponsible superhero Alpha uses his powers without care in his battle with Terminus causes many aircraft to shut down. The Avengers rescue everybody and Spider-Man saves his Aunt May and John from Jameson's malfunctioning private jet just before it crashes. Later Peter arrives at the hospital to see that his Aunt May and John are okay.
May and John later move back to New York, not long before Doc Ock would switch minds with Peter. During the Goblin Nation attack, Mary Jane got the couple to safety. After Peter regained control of his body and defeated the Goblin Nation, he apologized for "his" behavior and decided to check May's hip prosthesis (made by Doc Ock) and promised to severe all his and Parker Industries' (also made by Octavius) ties with Spider-Man.
May Parker possesses the normal human strength for a female her age, height, and build who engages in minimal regular exercise.
The character maintained a subtle undertone of inner strength until the departure from the title by co-creator Steve Ditko, after which her characterization leaned closer to stereotypical senility. This has been changed back in forth as other writers have handled the character.
A curious note is that Mephisto's magic that alternate Spider-Man's life in Brand New Day appears to have altered Spider-Man's history with the New Avengers, and has shattered the connection between Jarvis and May. Even more of interest is that later events reveal Jarvis was some time in the past replaced by a Skrull (and a later confirmation it was indeed the Jarvis Skrull who had feelings for May), coupled with Mephisto's magic altering history, complicates matters. Furthermore, in a What If alternate reality, without Mephisto's intervention, May claimed Jarvis was "shot," implying that she saw him die before her eyes, evidently not reverting back to Skrull form, which is even more confusing.