Not everyone has the luxury of growing up with both sets of their grandparents living just a few miles away, like I did.
When the Always moved to Ferndale, Washington when Stew was just a little kid, his grandparents did not live nearby or had already passed away. Luckily, he and his brothers ended up with some "surrogate grandparents," right down the road: Liesbeth and Pete.
I was never fortunate enough to know Pete, but Stew and I spent a lot of time with Liesbeth in the years that we've been together. We used to visit her at her retirement community in Woodinville, where we'd sit for hours playing Rummikub (a tile-based game that combines elements of rummy and mahjong). Liesbeth beat me every time. She would talk to me about her gardens up in Ferndale, and show me photos of her absolutely beautiful flowers. To this day I still have not seen anything else like it. During the early years, I was often treated to delicious samples of her amazing baked goods (and I know I'll probably never get it quite right, but I hope to someday re-create her famous lemon meringue pie).
Liesbeth's health declined over the past several years, and she passed away at the age of 95, after an inspiring and fulfilling life.
Stew and I attended her memorial up in Ferndale over the weekend, and it was amazing to hear Liesbeth's children and grandchildren tell stories about her. It makes me so happy that Stew and his brothers got to have this wonderful woman as a part of their lives.
She will be missed.