On June 12th, our family said goodbye to not only a dear grandfather/great-grandfather, but also to an American hero. James Joseph Hughes was my husbands’ Grandfather, better known to us as, Grandpa Jim. (You can read his story here)
When I heard the news from my husband James (named after his grandfather), late Sunday night, I was heartbroken. Grandpa Jim had not been ill, in fact we had just seen him a few weeks prior and he was in high spirits. His death was sudden, sad, and shocking. For the second time in my life I had to book plane tickets to get home quickly for a grandparents death. Four years ago in August, two days after our wedding, my Meme died from cancer and James and I had to rush back from our honeymoon to be with family. So once again, I found tickets, this time just me and the girls since we were in New Mexico on a mission trip without James.
Over the next few days I learned so much about the man that my husband admired so much and whom we all loved dearly. I learned about his faith, something that he didn’t talk much about, but was such a large part of his life. I saw from the many family members who poured into Springfield that he was greatly loved and admired, not only by us but by friends and the community. I was reminded of what a thoughtful gift giver he was, and will cherish forever the bowling pin he painted into a penguin for me for my first Christmas with the Hughes. I saw what an amazing job our country does in honoring our veterans and giving their families a place to remember them after they are gone. I watched his wife, Grandma Pat, mourn the loss of her best friend and husband of 57 years and still find a way to smile and laugh, because that is what he would have wanted.
All a person has left after they are gone is the legacy they leave behind. What an amazing legacy this man has left. He sacrificed for our country, he loved his family, he worked hard to provide for his five children, he supported his grandchildren in whatever they did, and adored his two great-granddaughters. Each of his children and grandchildren reflect his character in one way or another, making sure that his legacy will never die. He lived a full life, completely full of family, traveling, friends, and serving his country and church. Even though we won’t see him again here on earth, we’ll see him in his children, we’ll see him in his grandchildren, and we’ll see him in heaven. I am so glad that my girls will grow up knowing that their Grandpa Jim was a hero…