I was absolutely stunned when a good friend, Dr. Jim Roberts, called me a week ago Friday and told me Dee McDonald was in the hospital in Sioux Falls, S.D. and that things weren't looking good for her.
Dee had always been in such good health, so when Jim said she had fallen in her home, I was dumbfounded. And when Jim called me the next day (I was without Internet access over the weekend) and said Dee had passed on, it was as though the floor had been jerked out from under me and I was freefalling with no earth in site.
Dee was a dear friend. In fact, Dee was a dear friend to everyone who knew her. A good case could likely be made that if someone didn't like Dee, then that person wasn't worth knowing.
As activities director at Rosewood Manor, Dee put her Christian beliefs into action every day she went to work. I've had some pretty strenuous and dangerous jobs in my lifetime, but I think I'd have to say that Dee's job was probably tougher than anything I've ever done. Imagine making friends with the residents only to see them pass away on a regular basis. But there Dee was, showing them the way and the light.
For several years, Dee gathered together residents once a week and our newspaper staff interviewed them for the Rosewood Memory. It was usually about old businesses but sometimes it was about such topics as threshing or living through the Great Depression. It was a wonderful way for Rosewood residents to relive the past and share things from their youth.
For several years, Dee collected the Rosewood Memories into a bound volume, the proceeds of which went for improvements at Rosewood. Dee did this in addition to her demanding job of activities director.
An extremely talented musician, Dee put her music ministry to work admirably. She didn't merely claim the Christian life - she lived it, through every fiber of her being. She had an aura about her - a glow - of something very powerful and not of this world.
Without a doubt, Dee was probably the least judgmental person I've ever known. While I've never known a person with fewer faults, She never - absolutely never - pointed out the faults of others.
Dee's husband Greg and their children are by no means alone in their grief. Many people in Estherville and far beyond are devastated. When we lose a person like Dee, in the prime of her life, it makes us reexamine our own lives.
Are we living our lives the way we should? Are we setting an example for others? Can we honestly say we're doing our best? Can we say that we're living our lives as Jesus lived his?
For Dee, the answer to every one of those questions would have been a resounding yes.