Losing A Loved One
When someone close to you dies, regardless if it’s a friend or family member, the pain can be unbearable. Whether you’ve known them your entire life or their time on earth was tragically cut short, death is an uncomfortable situation and can leave you with more questions than answers.
It can be hard to find comfort after the death of a loved one. Many people just simply don’t know how to cope and if they are working through the loss on their own, it can take quite a long time to heal. However, sometimes a simple act of kindness from a stranger can make all the difference.
An Unexpected Act of Kindness
For one family, the loss of their son was almost too much to bear. However, when another mourner unexpectedly reached out in an act of pure selfless compassion, the family was left stunned. You won’t believe this story of tragedy, compassion and newfound hope for humanity.
A Dream Come True
For Staff Sergeant Joseph Villasenor, serving in the United States Air Force was a dream come true. He enlisted in 1994 and for sixteen years served vigilantly, pouring his heart and soul into his work. When Joseph was committed, he put 100% into everything he did.
Going the Extra Mile
While serving in the Air Force, Joseph played for the Charleston Air Force Bases’s softball league. To all of his fellow servicemen, he was the perfect example of a great man. Unfortunately, tragedy struck in 2010…
Gone Too Soon
Joseph was only 36-years-old when he was killed in an unexpected car accident. His parents and wife he left behind were absolutely devastated over the tragic turn of events and decided his body would be interred in Conroe, Texas at the Garden Park Cemetery. However, one day when his parents went to visit his grave they were shocked by what they found. And it was all thanks to a special stranger…
A Widower Alone
Jake Reissig had lost his wife of 65 years in 2014 and had never quite recovered from her unexpected passing. His wife, Betty, had meant everything to him and their life together had been the picture-perfect marriage. The widower describes his life with his wife like a “fairy tale” and they would go on to have nine children. When she died, it was a devastating blow.
Visiting the Cemetery
Despite losing her, Jake refused to say goodbye and made it a routine to visit her grave frequently. However, while at the cemetery, he started to do something else as well and it would end up touching the lives of another family.
A Daily Routine
For Jake, his day followed the same basic routine. He went to church every single morning for prayer and then met one of his children for coffee before heading back home to work in his garden. The retired senior needed to keep busy, in some ways it was how he handled his grief.
Everything’s Coming Up Roses
In the afternoon, he clipped some roses from his yard and then headed to Garden Park Cemetery to lay them on his wife’s headstone. He even goes the extra mile to water the area around the headstone to make sure the grass stays nice and green.
Friends and relatives questioned why Jake would go to the cemetery every day and the answer is so romantic! Throughout his 65-year marriage, Jake gave his wife Betty a rose every day they were together. And he refused to give up a tradition even in death. However, in 2015, he decided to change up his routine by adding another task.
A Terrible Drought
That summer, a sweltering drought hit Texas that caused all of the grass in the cemetery to die. It made for a depressing sight, the brown grass surrounding the headstones, and Jake just couldn’t bear to see his wife’s resting place look so drab. Therefore, he came up with a solution.
A Green New Deal
Jake began to water the grass surrounding his wife’s grave. As time went on, the extra effort paid off and the grass turned a vibrant green again. While he knew to water the grass during a drought would be frowned upon, the senior wanted to do right by the wife he missed so much.
Wife in Distress
One day while visiting the cemetery, Jake noticed a grieving wife sobbing at a nearby headstone. The display of raw emotion touched his heart and he quietly approached her, hoping there was some way he might calm her down and bring some comfort.
Five Years Gone
After a few minutes of small talk, the woman revealed herself to be the wife of Joseph Villasenor, and that it had been five years since his death. Jake revealed to her that he had lost his wife the previous year, and together they were able to provide some comfort to one another. It was a simple gesture by the retired senior, but he was happy he could bring a smile to her face for even just a moment.
After the woman left, Jake still felt horrible for her predicament. He had gotten the opportunity to spend a long life with his wife, and she had only a few short years with her husband. At that moment, Jake knew he needed to do something nice for her.
You won’t believe what he cooked up!
Paying Their Respects
It had been several months since Joseph’s parents Raymond and Rachel had visited their son’s grave. Realizing they need to push down the pain and pay their respects, they decided to head to the cemetery and spend some time with their precious son.
However, when they arrived the parents were shocked to find something extraordinary.
Life Among the Dead
Despite the drought and the entire cemetery being dead and brown, the grass surrounding Joseph’s plot was a healthy, alive and vibrant green. The grieving parents were blown away by the sight and wondered how it was possible.
“I told my husband it had to be a miracle from Heaven,” Rachel said to the local media. “What else could have possibly explained it?”
However, the parents were about to discover the truth and it was something that would move them to tears.
I’ve Got Something to Say
As the parents contemplated how the grass had stayed alive, they didn’t notice Jake slowly approaching them with a big smile on his face. He wasn’t sure how they’d react to his interfering with their son’s grave, but Jake hoped they would appreciate it.
Revealing the Truth
He revealed to them that he had spoken with their daughter-in-law several months prior and that he wanted to give them a gift. He explained his own daily routine for his wife’s grave and expressed joy in being able to provide some comfort to the family in some small way.
A Close Connection
Jake revealed that he had lost someone in the armed forces as well. His daughter had been married to a U.S. veteran named Benjamin who unfortunately discovered he had cancer shortly after being deployed. Although he went through chemotherapy, he passed away in 2011. When Jake had learned their son had served in the military, he felt watering his grave would honor his memory.
“I have great respect for the men and women who have served our country,” Jake revealed. “I figured by keeping the grass green, it would help the family grieve. That there still could be something living among the dead.”
A Beautiful Gesture
Raymond and Rachel couldn’t believe that Jake would go out of his way to do something so special for their family. They didn’t know how they could ever repay him, so Rachel simply gave him a huge hug, wiping away a few tears.
No Longer Strangers
What Rachel and Raymond didn’t realize was that their son Joseph and Jake weren’t strangers after all. At least not in Jake’s eyes. He had been visiting their son’s grave for months, watering it and keeping it up, so he felt they had grown to know one another in a spiritual sort of way.
Just A Good Guy
According to Roger, Jake’s son, his dad’s affection for Joseph (who he now calls Joe) is just the way he is as a human being. “He treats Joe just like he did my mom and siblings. He’s an affectionate man and lives his life selflessly.”
Sharing the Inspiration
Roger didn’t want his father’s good deed to go unnoticed. Although his dad was a humble man, and always acted out of kindness with no need for recognition, he wanted his father for once to be praised for being such a good man. Therefore, he made the decision to share his father’s story on Facebook.
A Son’s Pride
In an emotional post, Roger described his dad’s daily routine and his new connection with the fallen U.S. veteran, Joseph. He expressed pride that his father was honoring a complete stranger, treating him like he was one of his own children. He also went on to express the importance of making each day count and loving your family because you never know when they might be taken away.
Too Close To Home
Roger had almost lost one of his own children when three armed robbers burst into his daughter’s workplace a month prior. Thankfully, she wasn’t working that day, but he knew how bad things could have turned out. As a grandfather, Jake formed a strong bond with his grandchildren and tried to lead by example of what pure love and selflessness can do for others.
Even though Jake’s wife has passed, his daughter considers them still married. When the story of her dad’s kind gesture was picked up by the media, she shared a picture of her parents from their 6th wedding anniversary. “Mom and dad are still married, Mom just lives in Heaven.”
Live Your Truth
If there’s one thing that Jake hopes people takes away from his story, it’s to live each day with purpose and to put love above all things. You never know what positive impact you can make on someone’s life through one small gesture of kindness.