Mr. Peter McDonald’s wife, Joan, recently passed at Haven’s Suwannee Valley Hospice Care Center in Lake City. To show his gratitude for the incredible care he and his wife received, he donated a handmade covered wagon to be sold or auctioned.
Mr. McDonald, a true craftsman, said that his covered wagons take six-to-nine months build. He does not use formal plans, but instead analyzes authentic photos to determine how he will build his creation. If you look underneath the wagon, you’ll see that it has a proper chassis, just like a real covered wagon. And if you look inside, you’ll find the most intricate details, like miniature sheets, décor, woodstoves and more. No detail is amiss.
The first wagon he created was to raise funds for a large family reunion years ago. That one sold for $1,500. So when Mr. McDonald decided he wanted to help Haven Hospice raise money, he grabbed his antique tools—handed down from his grandfather and father—and went to work.
“The reason I donated the covered wagon was to raise money for Haven’s Suwannee Valley Hospice Care Center. A lot of people donate money, and I am not in a situation where I can do that, but I loved the idea of giving a covered wagon to the staff so they can use it to raise money. I hope it raises even more than my last. I put a lot of my heart and feelings in things I build and I think that shows in the wagon I built,” said Mr. McDonald.
Mr. McDonald and his wife did not take their end-of-life preparations lightly. In 2017, before health issues were even on the horizon, Peter and Joan took care of all their arrangements to remove the financial and emotional burden from their children when the time came. This included their cemetery plot, caskets, advance directives and living will. It also included hospice.
“Joan had been to Haven a few times visiting our friends who were patients. She loved the facility. That’s why we chose Haven,” said Mr. McDonald. “The staff are very good and if you have any problems, they do everything they can to take care of it for you. I expected to go first, but it didn’t work out that way. When I get to the stage that I need hospice care, Haven is where I’ll be going.”
For now, Mr. McDonald is continuing his wood projects as a way to cope with the loss of his wife and occupy his mind. He is currently working on a 30-inch replica of the Mayflower, starting by laying the keel first, just like shipwrights did centuries ago. A former technical and mechanical engineer, Mr. McDonald has also built remote control airplanes, real vehicles, boats, furniture, countless replicas and more. It was his wife who kickstarted his passion for carpentry, he said, when she needed him to make a computer cabinet for their home.
“Joan was really an interesting lady,” said Mr. McDonald. “She loved genealogy and had 20,000 family photos on her computer. She spent a lot of time doing that. She also loved gardening.”
Mr. McDonald also hand-delivered a bouquet with a beautiful message to Haven’s Lake City staff to thank them for the care they provided his wife, sharing, “I couldn’t ask for better nurses or staff. I just enjoyed being there and so did my wife, even knowing full-well she was going to pass. She was happy.”