Wednesday, March 11, 2009
David Baker (1941-2009)
My Father-in-law passed away three days ago..I'm profoundly saddened, sick over it and simply still cannot believe it. He was a salt-of-the-earth goof-ball and I loved him and miss him already and can't believe I'll never see him again.
He had back pain just after the new year and an MRI revealed that he had a metastatic tumor that was spreading rapidly. My poor wife was the one who told him..how horrifying?! Less than eight weeks later he died in Exeter hospital surrounded by his family and friends. I just can't wrap my head around how quickly is all transpired..all of this.
Five of my favorite David Baker memories:
1) In 1998 I bought an engagement ring and decided I was going to ask Alison Baker to marry me just after the new year..and in the tradition of courtship, I was going to ask her father David for permission to marry his daughter. At that time I worked as a chainsaw sculptor, carving bears and eagles on Cape Cod, it was a very cool job. My plan was to trade one of my carved bears for his daughter. David had a great sense of humor and was a woodsman and I knew he would appreciate it. I snuck the bear into his basement and the exchange went something like this:
Me (standing next to the bear trying not to laugh): In the tradition of the pioneers who traded skins, furs and pelts for the Indian chiefs daughters, I would like to trade you this fine wooden bear for one of your squaws.
David: which one?
Me: The medicine women (Alison was in medical school at the time)
David: I'll give you Kristen (Alison's twin sister)
2) David came to visit Alison and I when we lived in Philly and he was bragging about his artistic ability and how he was going to switch careers and become an artist. He wanted an honest critique of his art and showed me a stick figure drawing of a bird. I played along and gave a rave review and agreed that he should switch careers and hang up the fifty years he worked as a fire fighter and sell his tree service that he owned since 1967. We had a brief chuckle, he flew back to New Hampshire and I never gave any more thought to the stick bird. A few days later as I poured a bowl of cereal for myself a piece of paper with a stick bird drawing on it fell into my bowl. Dave tucked it in the box before he left..I phoned him, we had another chuckle, I thought it was over. The next day Alison was reading a book and a stick bird came out of one of the pages..another one was found wedged between the stacked dinner plates..another in my sock drawer, underwear drawer, several shirt and coat pockets, shoes, utensil drawer, cups, mugs, countless books, etc..we would find them weeks, months and even years later. The last was about two years ago wedged in the pages of another book. The later we would find them the funnier it became.."Oh my God, Alison, I found another stick bird, the man is nuts". He later revealed he thinks he made over a hundred of them and spent hours making them. I've never more looked forward to finding another one.
3) The day we moved back from Philly, David was so happy to have Alison home in new Hampshire again..he spent a large part of the summer mowing the words, "WELCOME HOME ALISON" in a grass field behind his house. It was about a football field long..not kidding.
July, 2003: Alison standing in the middle of the "Welcome Home Alison" field. David had lifted me in his bucket truck to take this photo.
4) Blueberry picking in his secret spots...I had only picked blueberries on mountainsides prior and didn't realize his secret spot was chest deep in a blueberry bog..great fun though..we got gallons.
5) Target shooting competitions in Davids woods..the targets were bear bottles and he would sometimes call me asking to help him make targets. He was a better shot than I was and I suspected he would would sometimes dog it and lose on purpose to make me feel good..I didn't care, I just genuinely enjoyed his company and being with him.
I miss you David.