Jeffrey J. McDougall, president and owner of JMA Energy, engaged Müllerhaus Legacy to preserve the extraordinary life story of his maternal grandmother, Rose Mary Deegan. Her life exemplified the benefits of honesty, hard work, and forgiveness. The following excerpts are from her book, The Good Life.
John, my husband, died in June of 1960—three months after the birth of our twelfth child.
Summer days are usually busy for people who farm, and June 22, 1960, was no exception. John had been out making hay all day, baling and working in the south field, where we had alfalfa. Family had just gotten in from California, and when John came in that night, he said, “Well, you’d better bake a cake tonight, because they’ll be out to visit tomorrow.”
So I put a cake in the oven, and we got the kids ready for bed. Except for Dianne and Donna, all of our kids were home that summer. While John was getting ready for bed, I went in to see if the kids had gone to sleep, and suddenly I heard something.
John was choking.
There wasn’t anything any of us could do.
He died almost instantly of a heart attack.
It was around 10 or 10:30 at night. We had everything set out for the next day, ready for Lloyd and Anna’s visit. We’d planned to get up early to greet them. Instead, the world the kids and I lived in had suddenly, horribly changed. The cake I’d baked for our company seemed to belong to someone else, in another place, another lifetime.
I remember a whirlwind of telephone conversations, the phone ringing almost before I could hang it up, the house filling with concerned faces. My dad came, and at one point during that upside-down night I remember turning to him and saying, “What are we going to do next? Where do we go from here?”
“Well,” he kept telling me. “It’ll work out. It’ll work out.”
The First Thing I Had To Handle
John had bought three railroad carloads of sheep, and, as fate would have it, they’d come in that very same night. They were sitting on a sidetrack in the nearby town of Struble, and they had to be watered and taken care of right away, or they’d start to die. So that was one of the first things I had to handle.
In the time directly following John’s death, I somehow got the household set up where everything was being managed pretty well. The secret was just never to think too much—and if you did, always try to think positively and not dwell on the challenges.
The Lord looked out for us by giving us good people who helped fill the void that John left. I believe that the Lord was looking out for us then, and that he’s still looking out for us even as I write this, many decades later.
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