Garnet Lynch: A Teacher in Life and Death
As a life-long educator, Garnet Lynch spent her career teaching children in Frederick County Public Schools for more than 30 years. So it should come as no surprise that her passing provides a lesson to others on how hospice cares for the sick—and those they love.
Garnet was diagnosed with a brain tumor in early 2018 and doctors told her she probably had only a year or less to live. “It turned out to be eight-and-a-half months,” recalls her husband, Tom Lynch. “But we had a wonderful eight-and-a-half months to mourn together.”
For a few months following her diagnosis, Garnet made a valiant attempt to fight the cancer. But aggressive rounds of chemotherapy and radiation could not reverse the course of the disease. By September, her condition had deteriorated to such a point that it became impossible for Tom to continue to provide care for her at home.
Following a stay at a rehab facility, Garnet moved to the Kline Hospice House, where her room opened to a large patio that enabled her family and friends, including her four sons, to gather and reminisce. And when Garnet needed quiet rest, Tom says he, the “boys” and her many family and friends would escape to the downstairs TV room to watch some football or would enjoy the patio and living room.
“The Kline House is an amazing facility and the gals there made Garnet feel like a queen,” Tom says, recalling that they even made sure she had her preferred brand of canned soup. “They’d ask her what she’d like to eat and she’d say, ‘Campbell’s soup and a grilled cheese sandwich.’ Her dad worked for Campbell’s soup, so we always had Campbell’s in the house.”
But the staff also took care of Tom, checking on him and helping him understand some of the key points in the transition from life to death. Even amid his loss, Tom recalls those last few days as a “very positive experience. It was the right place for her. I know she felt that way.”
Garnet died on Nov. 18, 2018. Always the teacher, Garnet donated her body to science after her death in the hope that researchers could find a cure for the glioblastoma that cut her own life short.
Even before Garnet became ill, Garnet and Tom had been strong supporters of Frederick Health Hospice, having participated in one of its first fundraisers. As a realtor with Mackintosh Realtors, Tom was a regular sponsor of the annual Patty Pollatos Fund golf tournament, proceeds of which benefitted Hospice. “I’m especially grateful to Debbie Williams and all her work with the Patty Pollatos Fund to support the Kline Hospice House,” Tom says.
In 2019, Tom organized an annual golf tournament through the Frederick Elks Lodge #684 which to date has raised more than $7,000 for the Kline House. He has also asked that some of the Lodge’s benevolent drives support the Kline House’s wish list of needed items (see back cover).
The support of friends and neighbors in Frederick County has helped Tom come to terms with his wife’s death and reminded him that he is not alone. The Elks even issued a special accommodation so that Garnet could become a member of Elks Lodge 684 before she died. The ceremony was performed in her room at the Kline Hospice House. “They wrapped their arms around her just like Hospice did,” Tom says.
In the years since Garnet’s death, Tom and Garnet’s five children look back on their experience with Frederick Health Hospice and the Kline Hospice House with profound gratitude. “She was blessed for being there,” he says.