Monday, January 07, 2008

We Love You Grandpa Hughes

My Grandfather Hughes passed away at 3:00 AM EST this morning. I had hoped to see him one last time this next weekend, but his late stage lung cancer swept in very quickly in the past two weeks. I am very thankful that I was able to spend his 89th birthday celebration with him this past summer when he was in good health and happy spirits.

And thanks to my cousins Kelly and Abby who organized a special Christmas present for him this year, everyone if our family wrote a personal letter in a combined family scrap book we shared with him at Christmas.

Here was the letter I shared with him:

December 2007

Dear Grandpa,

Merry Christmas!

Here are some thoughts that I wanted to share with you this Holiday Season. I want you to know that your lessons continue to help me everyday. Thank you for being the great Grandfather you are. One day I hope to pass your advice and wisdom on to my family!


I will never forget the time you gave me an old 1917 one dollar bill. I must have been 10 or 11 and I mentioned to you one time when we were visiting from Iowa that I was just starting to collect coins – I wanted to learn to become a numismatist. You said, I’ve got something for you and you took me out to your garage and searched around until you found a container that had a bunch of coins and foreign currency in it. You said that Patrick used to collect coins when he was a boy and that when you were younger you used to collect different coins from your travels too. The old tin you gave me had a handful of colorful coins of all different shapes. There were coins from Panama and several islands and territories you had visited. You told me stories about each country and it was fun to hear about your time in the service and the exciting adventures you had. It was great to hear about your buddies and the exotic places you had seen. It made me want to explore the world and see many great places which I have been so lucky to have done!

I still have the 1917 bill, and you inspired me to keep collecting. I even made an investment at the time and purchased a bag of 5,000 pre-war pennies and Indian Heads which I bought for $150 (which worked out to 3 cents per penny). Lots of my friends thought I was crazy for paying 3 cents for a penny and spending so many hours sorting through them all. But when I appraised one of the first pennies I pulled out of the bag to be a rare Indian Head penny worth over $60 I knew I was on to something and I never stopped investing. Thank you for teaching me to see the real value in things that may be beyond the surface.


One year you gave me a wristwatch for Christmas. It was the very first watch I owned and it was from my grandpa Hughes, which I loved! My parents probably hated that I got that gift, because from then on out I would tell them when we were late to school, or late to practice, or late to whatever. I wore the watch everyday to school and I loved it. I wish I still had that watch because it was perfect! I don’t wear a watch often today because I simply use my cell phone clock. But I know that I learned the importance of time from having that watch you gave me. To this day, I make sure I show up to meetings, dates with friends, or pretty much everything on time. Being considerate of time is a sign of respect and means a lot. Thank you for this valuable lesson. It continues to help me everyday.


Every time I go to my closet and look at my collection of ties, I think of your closet. You used to have hundreds of ties – every color, and style it seemed. A few times, you even gave me a couple of your ties and said I could have them. It made me want to wear a tie, even though I had no suit to go with it and I didn’t have to dress up for school.

You taught me how to tie my first tie and showed me it was as easy as tying my shoe. It wasn’t at first, but I kept trying and trying until I got it.

I felt like an adult and I couldn’t wait until one day I would get the opportunity to go to work and wear a tie. In high school I started collecting my own ties and soon built up a pretty neat assortment. Every color and style. So now when I go to my own closet I always remember your wonderful ties and how you taught me my very first knot.


I wish I was with you in Ohio this holiday season! I can’t wait to celebrate with you for your 90th birthday.

Thank you for your love, wisdom, and all you have shared with me.

All My Love,



Jane said...

Great tribute, Unity -- he sounds like the kind of guy no one wants to lose. Wishing your family peace.

Tara said...

I was touched, reading your lovely tribute to your grandfather. What a wonderful man he was! I shall be keeping you and your family in my thoughts..

Howard said...

He sounds like a fantastic man who taught you are so fortunate to have such great memories of your time with him. You and your family are in my thoughts...