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Dear family and friends of Pete,
I hope this page will allow us to share our love and our grief easily. Pete was fortunate to be loved by so many and those many are scattered across the country. I wish I had the capacity to have a conversation with each of you to talk about what happened and to reminisce. Since that is not possible, perhaps this site can help.
Here's what happened...
Pete had a heart attack late Monday afternoon on January 4. He was taken to Holland Hospital in Holland, MI by ambulance and blockages of 100% and 70% were discovered within his heart. A successful procedure occurred to place two stents and everyone thought he was progressing well. Then, on Tuesday afternoon, he suffered a stroke. He experienced severe bleeding in his brain and the prognosis from the neurosurgeon was not good. By the next morning, the bleeding had worsened and his condition had deteriorated even further. It was time to let Pete go.
1 Liver and 2 Kidneys...
As I type tonight (11:20 p.m. on January 8), Pete's liver and both his kidneys are being transplanted into three individuals who have been on wait lists for these respective organs. Both of us are registered organ donors so it was an easy decision to allow the Gift of Life folks to review his medical history to determine if he was a viable donor and to see if there were recipients in the area that needed what he could donate. Pete falls into the 1% of the organ donor population that are able to make over 150 gifts of life. Eyes, tendons, bone, and perhaps even his hand or arm (don't ask me for details on this one -apparently there is some new technology that enables whole arms to be transplanted in rare cases.) will be available to those who need it. We are certain the three organs will be transplanted, but his body will keep on giving to an unknown number of people in need. This is the Pete we all know and love. He's a "giver" even after he's left us. I'm proud of him.
A Time of Remembrance...
I'm choosing not to have a local memorial service for Pete. We all know Pete's heart and soul are in New England. In fact, as he lay in the hospital bed with the machines keeping him alive, I put his favorite Patriots hat on him. Not only did that show any of the medical personnel entering the room a bit of who he was, but it made him look so much more like...well...him. It helped us look past all of the tubes and cords and see Pete.
In June, we will celebrate Pete's life in New England. Once there are more details I'll be sure to communicate with you all. Pete's wish was to be cremated and for his ashes to be spread near (can't say "on" because that would be illegal!) Lake Echo in Vermont. He and his family spent many years there enjoying the beautiful lake and each other. We also spent a lot of time there together and I know how special that area is to him. Some people say that delaying this type of thing doesn't allow for closure. But I seriously doubt having something next week that only a handful of people could attend will bring me or anyone else closure. I look forward to celebrating Pete and his impact on all of us in June.
A Personal Note...
I've loved Pete for almost half of my life. We had 21 amazing years together and I honestly thought we had another 20 or so yet to go. After all, he had that incredible Baker blood full of longevity. I don't know why we didn't get those additional years. Here's what I do know. I know that a life without gardening, fishing, or creating things in his workshop would not be any kind of life for Pete. A life of reliance on others for even simple tasks like getting dressed and eating or a life where his brain would not allow him to comprehend complex sentences much less do those ever present Sudoku puzzles in the newspaper is not a life he would have wanted. So, I'm grateful that God decided Pete didn't need to walk that road.
I don't know how I'm going to "do life" without him. I am, however, still an incredibly lucky girl. You see, I had the gift of Pete for 21 years. Me. I got to love, laugh, cry, hold hands, take trips, stay home, and build a life with the best guy on the planet. He loved me in spite of all of my failings. He accepted me just as I was at 24 and as I am today. I can only hope that I helped him grow as much as he helped me. Yup. A very fortunate girl.
There are so many people to thank. I cannot express in words how much I felt the prayers and love for us as we moved through these few days. I felt it every moment. Thank you to all of the family and friends who held my hand, let me weep, made sure I stayed hydrated, and basically supported both Pete and I through this. Many of you accomplished this without even being in the same state! I also cannot describe the care received at Holland Hospital. Every single staff member treated Pete with compassion and skillful care even when he wasn't conscious. They talked to him every time they moved his body to accommodate yet another tube or changed an IV bag. And, they also took care of the rest of us as we paced and waited for news. I am so very grateful. Thank you.
Use this site as you will. If you have favorite pictures to post of Pete, please do. Share a memory or leave a comment in the Guestbook. However you wish to contribute content is wonderful. Thank you for being part of our lives and for loving Pete. We will all miss him.
Pete’s connection with the Master Gardener program through the University of Vermont was a big part of his life these last ten years or so. If you wish to honor his life monetarily, you can contribute to the UVM Master Gardener program which distributes scholarships for the course to those who cannot afford to participate. If you are so inclined, you can contribute through their website or by sending a donation to University of Vermont, 63 Tarragon Drive, Jeffords Hall #206, Burlington Vermont, 05405. Make the check out to UVM Foundation and please indicate Extension MG Program – Peter Baker Memorial in the memo section of your check. Or…plant a tree...till an extra three feet next summer in that vegetable garden…anything that beautifies our world and feeds your soul works!
Till not an inch of earth shows brown,
And take a vow of each small seed
To grow to greenness and renown:
And then some day you'll pass my way,
See gold and crimson, bell and star,
And catch my garden's soul, and say:
"How sweet these cottage gardens are!"
Edith Nesbit, the poem Seed-Time and Harvest from the Pomander of Verse, 1895
Rest well my beautiful gardener. You are so very loved.
Address: 4120 Port Sheldon Street - Hudsonville, MI 49426