THE DIARIES OF MARGO MOGUSH FREIVOLDS
Plymouth man writes memoir of his wife through her diaries
A testament found stashed in a steamer trunk
Following the death of his wife of 20 years, Plymouth resident John Freivalds opened a steamer trunk filled with more than 27 diaries hand-written by the woman he loved. And he began to read.
“’Til the River Runs Dry” is available in print and as an eBook March 1 on Amazon.com.
After poring over personal accounts dating back to the early ‘60s and leading up to the week before she died, Freivalds took to writing “‘Til the River Runs Dry,” a memoir of the life of his wife Margo Mogush Freivalds.
When asked if he missed his wife, Freivalds replied, “I just found her.”
Margo, born in Hopkins, died of Pleomorphic Sarcoma cancer after years of struggling with medical complications from Osteoarthritis. Margo died within 12 days of diagnosis of the cancer.
Freivalds wrote “‘Til the River Runs Dry” as a testament to her character, including her decision to quit her job at 42 to backpack through 11 countries in Asia on a year-long trip in 1986-87.
“She had a dead-end job at age 42 and dropped out. Everybody told her not to do it because she would ruin her career,” Freivalds said. “This 6-foot woman was traveling through Asia by herself with a backpack. She went to around 500 different places over the course of a year.”
When she returned, Margo was hired to what Freivalds describes as her “dream job” with Mead Johnson Nutrition as an International Development specialist. He said she landed the job as a result of her extensive travel and newfound familiarity with Asian culture.
It was after her return that Margo met Freivalds at American Cafe in Golden Valley over a business meeting, and the two began their relationship.
Margo and Freivalds then moved to the mountains of Virginia, where Freivalds and his wife experienced what he described as “golden years.”
While living in the mountains, Margo continued to struggle with her Osteoarthritis. The genetic conditional caused a gradual weakening of her bones, and Margo experienced frequent spontaneous fractures.
Freivalds and his wife resolved to relocate to Dubuque, Iowa, where they would be nearer to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester for Margo’s treatments.
The memoir includes a log of 17 surgeries Margo underwent for her bone condition and an early stage of breast cancer. The log includes numerous knee and hip replacements, a breast lumpectomy, a skin graft and cataract surgery.
Freivalds said that Margo’s bone problems were more or less solved after all the operations. However, all the major work took a serious toll on her health and left the door open for the Pleomorphic Sarcoma that would inevitably kill her.
“Her body was so weakened by all these surgeries,” he said. “This nasty cancer came in, and caused her death in only 12 days.”
Margo died in hospice in Edina on Sept. 17, 2010; she was 65. Services were held at Plymouth Creek Center.
Freivalds was going through a grieving process and began reading the diaries his wife had left behind.
“She wrote these things down not to draw any attention to herself,” Freivalds said. “I got into them and said, ‘man this is neat stuff.’ It took me about four readings of each one, and I went on from there. I said ‘my god, I have to write a book about these.’”
“‘Til the River Runs Dry” is available March 1 in print through Learner Publishing Group of Minneapolis. The book is also available as an eBook on Amazon.com through Vook.
Freivalds continued to say that the book was instrumental in his personal healing process following Margo’s death.
“You have to plunge into something,” he said. “This gave me something to do, and something to focus on. Not that she was impersonal, or that I was weeping over her, she just became this great person to write about. And, my god, I had all this great material right in the steamer chest.”
Freivalds has also authored several other books, including “The Famine Plot,” “Grain Trade” and “Successful Agribusiness Management.”
Freivalds said he hopes those who read the book pick up the positivity Margo saw in the world and learn a new perspective on how to live life.
“The main message is; realize how short life can be,” he said. “People don’t realize that, and if you have a chance to drop out and see the world while your knees still work, go do it. You will be rewarded for the risks you take.”
John Freivalds looks through his late wife’s diaries, which were the inspiration for his new book “‘Til the River Runs Dry.” (Photo by Brian Rosemeyer – Sun Newspapers)