Losing a loved one is tough, whether you knew them your whole life or they were taken away too soon. The pain you feel is never-ending, but in rare instances, a kind gesture from a loved one, a friend, or even a perfect stranger can lessen that pain. Just ask this family who received an unexpected act of compassion from another mourner.
For 16 years, Staff Sergeant Joseph Villa Senior served honorably in the United States Air Force since he enlisted in 1994. He also pitched for the Charleston Air Force Base’s softball league, which was his favorite sport.
For Villa Senior, it was a dream come true. However, in 2010, the most unimaginable thing happened. On his way to a game, the 36-year-old Sergeant Villa Senior was killed in a car crash. As an Arlington, Texas native, his body was interred in Caen Rowe, Texas, at Garden Park Cemetery. He left behind a grieving wife and two loving parents, Raymond and Rachel.
But one day, when his folks went to visit him, they saw something shocking in his grave, and it was all because of a kind widower. 86-year-old Jay Chris Leg lost his wife, Betty, of 65 years back in 2014. They had a fairytale life and nine children together, but after she died, the Conroe resident started a routine that he continues to do to this day. Fortunately, it also helped change another family’s mourning life in a way he couldn’t have foreseen.
Since his wife’s death, Jake starts off each morning by going to church, then he meets one of his kids for coffee before going back home. While he’s there, he clips a few roses from his beautiful garden and then heads to pay his wife a visit at Garden Park Cemetery. He also makes sure to water Betty’s headstone before leaving her the roses. Regardless of the time of year, he never strays from this routine.
But why does he do this? Jake is such a romantic. Throughout their 65-year marriage, he gave Betty a rose every day. And though she’s no longer with him, he continues to give her a rose on occasion. He also talks to his wife, whom he misses very much.
In 2015, something caused him to change his routine. A terrible drought hit Texas in the summer of 2015, which caused the grass in the cemetery to turn yellow and dry up. But Jake decided to do something about it by watering the grass around his wife’s grave. Eventually, his dedication paid off, and the grass turned green again.
Then, one day, as he wrapped up his routine, he noticed something that deeply affected his heart. Jake noticed a woman crying uncontrollably by a nearby headstone, which broke his heart. So he decided to walk up to her and see if he could calm her down. Pretty soon, they began talking, and she spoke to him about her husband Joseph, who had been dead for five years. Somehow, talking to Jake relieved some of her grief.
What he didn’t realize was how much more his conversation did for her. Several months later, Raymond and Rachel went to visit Joseph’s grave at Garden Park Cemetery. They couldn’t believe their eyes. While all the other graves were covered with dead grass, the grass on their son’s plot was green and lively. But the grieving parents had no idea how this had happened, and they assumed it was some kind of amazing miracle.
Jake walked up to Joseph’s bewildered parents and explained to them how he’d spoken to their daughter-in-law a few months earlier. He also told them about his daily routine and how he decided to do the same for Joseph’s grave. Jake felt that it was the least he could do for a man who served his country. Raymond and Rachel didn’t realize that Jake had lost someone in the armed forces too. Jake’s daughter Misha was married to a U.S. veteran named Benjamin. But after being deployed, Ben learned he had cancer. Sadly, despite undergoing chemo, his son-in-law passed away in 2011.
Misha has since remarried and now has two children, but the entire family still keeps Benjamin close to their hearts. So Jake totally sympathized with Raymond and Rachel’s family and their painful but special bond.
When Jake’s extraordinary gesture touched Raymond and Rachel, they had no idea how to thank him, so instead, they gave him a big hug. Rachel couldn’t believe that a stranger who never met her son took the time to care for his plot. What Rachel didn’t realize was that Joseph and Jake weren’t strangers at all. But how is that possible?
Now, Jake has two people to talk to during his many visits to the cemetery: his wife Betty and Joseph, whom he calls Joe. Of course, this is just the kind of guy he is, according to Jake’s son Roger, who claims his dad’s affection for Joe is similar to the way he treated his wife and kids.
But Roger wanted to make sure his dad’s gesture went viral. He decided to share his father’s story on Facebook. Not only did he thank Joseph for his service to our country, but he also expressed pride in his dad for honoring him the way he does.
Of course, Roger knows how important family is and how quickly someone can get taken away. In fact, he had a recent scare with one of his own kids. Last month, three armed robbers burst into a jewelry store in Conroe, Texas, where Roger’s daughter Shea works. Fortunately, it was Shea’s day off, but Roger knows how badly things could have turned out if she had been there.
Jake understood his son’s fears because he has a strong bond with all his grandkids. In return, they have a leading example of what true love is like in their grandparents, as this photo totally proves.
Diane, who’s one of Jake’s daughters, posted a photo of her parents’ sixtieth wedding anniversary. She also wrote that her parents are still married; mom just lives in heaven. Clearly, anyone who’s ever met this family can appreciate that what Jake and Betty had was an everlasting love.