This week I went to visit my good gardening friend, Amy Hetager on Wednesday afternoon. Her dad, John had emailed me that she went into home hospice care on Monday and I knew I wanted to visit her. Little did I know it would be the last time I would see her. She slept while I was there and I knew she was on her journey and she seemed peaceful. It seemed so sudden when I heard from her dad that she had passed away the next day on Thursday mourning and yet it was not really sudden.
Amy Hetager, leader of Home Grown New Mexico and whom I had gotten to know through working with her in both Home Grown and Master Gardeners organizations had been battling brain cancer for 5 years and had beat it back many times. Not many people knew she was sick as she was a very private person and I could respect that. I saw at many of our events she would not be feeling well-maybe she had chemo that day or the day before and yet she always showed up at the events. She was so strong internally. It seemed like in the 4 years that I knew her she had to go every week to put those chemicals into her body. They would save her for a while but they also wrecked her. One of those ways was that she had many joint replacements during that 5 years as the steroids the doctors gave her to counter the side effects of the many different chemos she had also destroyed her joints. Many people knew that she had some joint replacements because it’s hard to hide a cast. This was no secret.
I use to tease her and called her the bionic woman and actually she was now that I think of it in several ways, the most obvious way being those new metal joints but there was another way she was bionic in that she could do so much. Running her baby, Home Grown New Mexico and being involved in so many other gardening associations and organizations in our community took a bionic effort as well and it was something she really enjoyed and I’m sure it kept her going too.
Amy was a kind, gentle person with a passion for vegetable gardening and especially growing tomatoes which we both shared. She loved to grow vegetables, harvest them and process or cook them and she was an excellent cook as well. She wanted to be more sustainable which is also why she started Home Grown.
It seems like the nicest people always go first to the other side. When Amy got obviously physically sick late last year, I took on her responsibilities in running Home Grown to help her out and am continuing it forward now. Many of us will miss her and hopefully those of us in Home Grown can carry her vision forward as she would have wanted it. I know I’m sure going to try.