Sharing a most special gift

Two years ago this week an accident happened that forever changed the lives of Mat and Margarete Deutschmann.

Mat Deutschmann shows how he gently shaves the wood smooth on one of the many replicas he has created.

Mat Deutschmann shows how he gently shaves the wood smooth on one of the many replicas he has created.

In an instant, something horrible can take place that changes ones life permanently. Whether the change results in a positive or negative direction—is dependant upon the choices one makes.

Two years ago this week an accident happened that forever changed the lives of Mat and Margarete Deutschmann.

On December 12, 2010, 71 year old Mat was working on the roof of their home in Princeton, when he slipped and fell to the ground.

His injuries were extreme; he suffered numerous broken bones and extensive brain damage. Doctors told Margarete her husband would not survive.

Against all odds however, Mat did survive his accident. He underwent surgeries and many months of physiotherapy to regain the use of his body.

Due to the brain damage it was thought that Mat would never speak again. He has trouble hearing and some difficulty with his speech, but he is able to carry on a conversation quite well.

About a year after the accident, Mat suffered a heart attack, further limiting his activity.

Mat had spent his life as a carpenter up until his retirement. He did finishing work for Mike Grgich Contracting for a while when he and Margarete moved to Princeton to enjoy their retirement.

Mat has always had a creative streak when working with wood. He showcased his talents making carvings, and unique boxes for his wife, family and friends.

For approximately a year and a half after the accident, Mat did not know the name of his tools and machines or what they were even used for.

About four months ago, he started spending time in his workshop again. “I don’t like to watch television,” Mat said, “I have all these machines and I need to keep living.”

Margarete was quite amazed when she found out what her husband was doing in the workshop. “All of a sudden he just started making these guns,” she said. He had not made anything like this before.

Mat took his first creation into Princeton Outdoors, the outdoor supply store on Bridge Street owned and operated by Ron and Loretta Young. The Youngs quite like Mat, “He’s good people,” they said.

While showing off his first piece, Ron Young told Mat, “Have I ever got the book for you.” He gave Mat a magazine that showcases guns from the 1800’s.

Mat took the magazine home and from the photos began creating life-sized replicas.

He goes into his workshop, turns on the Christian music station from the East and listens to it all day while he works. He uses hardwoods like maple and walnut. No screws (with the exception of the guns that have silver plating on them) are used—he puts them together with glue and handmade wooden pegs. They are incredibly detailed, right down to the bullet cylinder that spins. Once complete, the guns are finished with his initials and shined up with olive oil. The replicas are not for sale—some have been given away as gifts and others decorate Mat and Margarete’s home.

With all he’s been through, Mat is happy. He believes that everyone should be blessed, just like he is. He is especially captivated by his wife. As he speaks of her, he looks over at her with a huge smile and says, “She is a good girl. She takes good care of me.”

Mat said he is not afraid of death at all—“You only live for so long here, and then you go on to something better,” he said.

Mat’s story is one of an incredible journey of perseverance in the face of adversity. It is a story shared by a man who has many gifts, the most prominent of them being faith and hope.