Two days before sweet baby Kiley was born, my grandma passed away suddenly and completely unexpectedly.
In an instant, it felt like my heart shattered into a million pieces.
Carol Edith Getchman
December 9, 1936 — February 8, 2017
We spend our entire lives preparing ourselves for the loss of our grandparents, but Grandma was absolutely the last person I had considered losing. Frankly, I thought she was far too stubborn to die.
Now it is difficult for me to even begin to describe how heartbroken I feel over the loss of this amazing, strong, kind, selfless, and sometimes cantankerous woman. My soul aches with the knowledge that I will never see her again, and my life will always have a gaping hole without her presence, which has been a constant since the day I was born.
Grandma recently turned 80 years old. Her birthday was the day before mine, and we had a little family celebration together almost every year.
She was born in St. Louis and lived in many places throughout her father's military service, including the Philippines. She met my grandpa in high school. They married in 1955 and remained together happily for more than 61 years.
Grandma was passionate about her community. She was one of the founding members of the North Thurston Faculty Wives in the late 1950s and worked as a volunteer in the gift shop at St. Peter Hospital for many years. She was active in the Friends of the Lacey Library, the Salvation Army Women's Auxiliary, the Priory Knitters and Spinners Club, and in her church. She also enjoyed visiting inmates at Washington State Corrections facilities with her faith community. She was never afraid to ask the hard questions, even when it got her kicked out of Bible Study.
For more than 35 years, she never missed attending a game or an activity for any of her grandchildren, and she usually arrived with some of her coveted baked goods in hand. Her cookie jar was always full, and she made amazing pies from blueberries and apples that we picked in the summer sun from her yard. She loved books (especially mysteries), tea, baking, koalas, and crafting (knitting, not crocheting, and counted cross stitch, not stamped). She loathed tattoos with such a vengeance that it frightened me into never getting one. She was always the perfect hostess and was a doting wife, mother, grandmother, and great grandmother. When she learned that someone liked something, she never forgot (and thus Stewart never spent a single holiday without Peeps for as long as he knew her).
I grew up in her arms, in her yard, in her living room, on her cooking, and in the warmth and reassurance of her unyielding love. She was there when I was born, and rushed to the hospital every subsequent time I ended up there throughout the years. I spent sick days home from school on her couch eating popsicles and jello. We spent evenings playing Monopoly and learning how to darn socks. She was there when I graduated, and when I got married.
I took her for granted, assuming she would be there forever.
I feel so fortunate that Ryder got to know and love her for a short while. And although I don't believe in heaven or an afterlife, a part of me hopes that I'm wrong, and perhaps there really is a place where we come from, and return to. And that maybe Kiley spent those two days before she was born cradled in her Great Grandma's loving arms.
Grandma, it was an honor and a privilege to know and love you.
"How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard."