Today’s Interviewee Is Linda MacDougall

Linda is my mother-in-law. I am so glad that she agreed to interview as she has important things to say about family, Faith, and the joy of living. She, among other family members, have taught me the importance of living an unselfish life. By her living example, she has shown that the joy in life is found, not by focusing on one’s own needs, but by loving and serving your family.

By now, the readers of this blog would likely know that most of my interview subjects are family members. In the past, if an interviewee had made reference to me in any way, I would have edited it out. I believed then, and still do, that the focus should entirely be on the person answering the questions. However, I realize now that editing out any substance of their answers would be like censorship. That I do not want to do. Thank you for reading this blog. Please enjoy the interview.

Q. What is your full name and what year were you born?

A. Linda Lee MacDougall and I was born in 1947.

Q. Where were you born, and where did you grow up?

A. I was born in Perth-Andover, and I don’t believe they even had a hospital there, to be honest. I think there was a house that took people in and that served as a hospital.

Q. How many siblings do you have, and what are their names?

A. I have 7—Richard, David, Kevin, Jackie, Barb, and Sheila. And Jody was an adopted brother. In later years, I learned I have five half siblings Cleo, John, Allen, Laura, and Jim.

Q. What were your favourite memories from growing up?

A. Christmas was a big time for everybody. Family gatherings and going to Grammie’s. When I was 12 or 13, I used to go with my aunt Stella and her family down to Bangor—that was a big thing in the summertime. Brenda and I were the same age. Sometimes I would stay there for a few weeks.

Q. Who was your best friend as a child?

A. I don’t really know. Most of the people you were around were your siblings. I think I played with Jackie the most. And I babysat them all when mom went to get groceries or something because they were all younger than me.

Q. Give me some examples of how life was different for you as a child as compared to your grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

A. We didn’t grow up with television, telephones, or indoor plumbing for a long time. I would like for my grandchildren and great-grandchildren to go back to see how we lived.

Q. Tell me something about yourself that your girls might not know?

A. I’m not certain, we talk pretty freely.

Q. What person was the biggest influence on your early life?

A. I guess it would be my mother, grandmother, and my aunts.

Q. Did you enjoy going to school, and what were your favourite subjects?

A. Yes, I enjoyed it. My favourite subject would probably be Math. I think I started when I was 5 years old. The school was about 2 miles (3.22 km) away from where I was living at the time. We walked to school, and there was one awful storm that I can remember, and my uncle picked me up and carried me. It was snowing and blowing, and the drifts were so high. It’s funny that the one memory has stuck with me.

Q. How old were you when you were married?

A. I was 19 years old.

Q. What was your first job, apart from being a wife and a mother?

A. Apart from picking potatoes and cutting seeds and that stuff, my first real job was working at the cafeteria at the school in the 70s. And then in 1981, I went to the Manor, where I stayed for almost 30 years.

Q. Where is a place in the world that you would love to travel, and why?

A. I don’t have any desire to travel anywhere. The only place I would like to go is to see some of my family.

Q. Are you a spiritual person? If so, have you always been?

A. Yes, I am. I think in some manner I always was from a very young age. We would go to church, and then it seems around 12 years old we stopped going, and I never went back until later years.

Q. How do you think your life would be different if you didn’t believe, and how has it affected your life overtime?

A. I think I’ve always been a believer. It seems like it is always when there are difficulties or trouble or sickness that you turn to God. And I often wonder about the people who don’t believe and wonder what they do—who do they talk to? I always felt like I was never alone. Somebody asked me one time after Dean passed away how I stay here alone, and I said I don’t feel like I’m alone. She asked if someone is living with me and I said, “No, just the man above”.

Q. What brings you the most joy in your life?

A. Family. I would just love to have everybody close, but probably not right under my feet. One thing that we truly really enjoyed was the “Scott” reunion we had a few years ago. That was a very memorable event that I don’t think any of us will ever forget. You got to see relatives that you haven’t seen for years and that was wonderful.

Q. What do you look forward to every day?

A. I guess I’ve always wanted to get right up. Over the last few years, I’ve been a little more tired, lazy, or wanted some extra time in bed. But I’ve always been a very driven person, an early bird. My favourite shift was the 6am-2pm. You know… when I open the blind in the morning and look at the St John River and the flag in the breeze, I think about how lucky we are to live in this country and each season has so much beauty.

Q. You had 4 girls. What was it like to have all girls and no boys? Is it true that it is more difficult to raise girls than boys?

A. I know we would have liked to have a boy, but I was very happy with the 4 girls.

Q. What is the most difficult time that you had with one of your children?

A. I can say they were all pretty good girls. You know, the normal mischief and stuff. I think the hardest thing was when Kim told me she had cancer. And one of the other things was when you, Allan, got your diagnosis.

Q. Tell me a story about each child. Perhaps something that they did to annoy you, or that made you laugh.

A. I know with Kathy—I think it was at Kendra’s wedding when she had gone with the kids to get them something to eat and when she got back it was right about the time when the wedding party was walking into the dining area. Kathy was leading the wedding party and was trying to get away from the area, and the girl behind her was following her. Everyone was just roaring and laughing.

Kim and Karen think that one of the most memorable times was when we went to The Price Is Right when we were in Las Vegas that time visiting Kathy. Kelly didn’t want to go.

A couple of years ago, Kelly asked if I’d go with her to get apple trees. At first, I didn’t want to go, but she convinced me to come for the drive. When we got down before Waterville, we were going to go down the road to the left, but it was a rough road, so we went on the highway instead. She put on the GPS, and I told her that you must swing off at Woodstock, but she insisted that’s not what the GPS was saying. So, we drove a while, and where we were going was just across the bridge, about 10 miles (16.09 km). When we got to Nackawic, we crossed the bridge and were supposed to take a left, but we were both looking at the Big Axe, so we passed it and neither of us noticed. She said, “My god, it can’t be down this far, we must be almost to Woodstock” and there was a sign that said “10 km to Fredericton”. She pulled over on the side of the road in disbelief. I’ll never forget that. Also, the parties at your house were memorable for all of us.

Q. What were the best and worst things about growing up in a rural area and working on a farm?

A. I think the hardest thing would be managing or providing everything that the kids needed. I know when the twins were little, they used to go to the potato house with me to cut seed. Just keeping everything going, for them.

Q. When you look at today’s world and the events that we see day to day, how do you view it—as hopeful for the future of your grandchildren and great-grandchildren or a bit worrisome?

A. I would say it’s very concerning. I often think about the little ones today and what the future will be like for them. I can always remember when the girls were small, Dean’s mother used to say “Oh, the way the world is today” and I think to myself that I guess they did ok. We must keep our faith and hope that everything will carry on well.

Q. What person or people would you consider to be a role model or a hero to you over the years? It could be someone you know, anyone alive or dead.

A. I think there would probably be more than one. Gram and Mom would be big role models when I was growing up. In the workplace, there were people that I admired for their honesty and integrity. There are some people that you can work with that are just so kind, perfect and are big role models. They are the types who are not negative and kind to everybody. You, Allan, are also a big role model in our lives. You have touched so many people. Not only that, but you are the best stepfather you could ever be to those boys, and your grandchildren adore you. One of my favourite pictures of you and those kids is in the bedroom down at yours and Kelly’s, and they were all laying everywhere on the bed beside you and watching a movie. That was precious, and some of the best times we’ve ever had were at yours and Kelly’s place. I talked to your mother about that one time, and we agreed that we miss those times so bad.

Q. Thank you for answering my questions.

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— Transcriptions and co-editing provided by Shalyn Arseneau

— Writing and co-editing provided by Allan MacPhee