There is a song sung by Wynona Judd called “You Were Loved”. The chorus plays in my head: “when you were touched by someone, held by someone, meant something to someone” you know you were loved.
I remember hearing the song for the first time when my grandfather was in the hospital suffering from congestive heart failure. At the time we, as a family, did not know such a disease was “fatal”. While his heart had always been physically weak he was such a strong, strong man. And the spirit of his heart was so powerful we just always assumed the combination would keep him around for a very long time. Unfortunately as all terminal illness does, it did take his life and while it has been 12 years it just seems like yesterday that I laid my head beside his on a pillow and shared a loving conversation.
My grandfather was a man of few words which made our last hours together even more significant. I always knew how much he loved me but being able to speak the words and share the feelings just made everything so real and honest. Knowing we left nothing unsaid meant I had no regrets and this gave me the strength to help my family deal with their loss. The two people I would typically turn to in such an hour of pain, my father and grandmother needed me. The timing of his death meant I was the one who had to tell his wife and son he was gone. As much as I was suffering, their pain of losing a husband and father respectfully meant I had to draw strength from him. It was the only way I could do what he needed me to do.
I draw strength from him every day. The way he lived his life absent of judgment, the way he didn’t see color, religion or station in life and his generous and welcoming nature. One of our favorite memories is of him greeting the garbage collectors, on a hot summer day, cold beer in hand for each of them. Remembering how he was makes me want to work harder to help realize the dream of hospice. It is the same spirit of nonjudgmental, unconditional love and support for any man, woman and child facing the distress of a terminal illness that was the meaning of his life. I know if he could have painted a picture of my life’s work, he would have painted the picture of hospice. I ask you today to help me honor the memory of Jim Huller while helping me raise funds for the By The Willow Program. I have set a goal of $500.00 that will be registered in his honor. Please email me at to let me know you would be happy to make an in memoriam donation.