The story is told of how when my Grandpa Hans Patrick first saw this picture of Ella Mae Hughes, he fell in love with her before they ever met, announcing, “This is the woman I am going to marry!”
Though this picture does not show it, Ella Mae had strikingly beautiful auburn hair; however, her beauty went much deeper: Ella Mae was an extraordinary person.
Those who knew her well tell me that Ella Mae had an extremely caring spirit and she looked out for everyone around her. As the second oldest child (and oldest daughter) in a family of nine children, she was like a second mother to her siblings. And though she experienced much laughter and happiness, she was never light-headed. Many have shared with me that being with her was like being in the presence of an angel. Ella Mae loved everyone; you can see it in her face, you can read it in her letters, you can hear it in the stories that people tell about her.
Ella Mae died when my father was only sixteen, tragically killed when the car she was riding in was hit by a drunk driver. In fitting tribute to this gentle woman who was beautiful in every way, Ella Mae’s tombstone reads, “To know her was to love her.”
Though I never had the chance to meet Ella Mae, I too have fallen in love with her. And as I learn more about her and connect her story with mine, I feel reunited with this grandmother I have not yet met; it brings great joy to my heart to be able to share her life and story with others through Family Photoloom.
“Family Threads” is a periodic column in Above the Trees. If you have a photograph and family story that you’d like to share with our readers, please contact us today! All submissions are subject to editing for space and content.