A Celebration of Life


This week I attended the funeral of James Madison (JM) Hulme Jr.  JM was my wife’s grandfather.  The father of Doug Hulme, my father-in-law.  JM died on his birthday this past September 27th at 96 years old.

He was also the father of Donald and Johnny. He was the husband to Hilda. He was the oldest brother to a large family (3 of which were at his funeral, Evelyn, Carolyn and Vic.)  He was the grandfather to 5 (Rena, Amy, Leann, Jim, Jake).  He was the great grandfather to even more!  He was the son of James Madison Hulme Sr.

He was a deacon, hymn leader, treasurer and more at Dewy Rose Baptist Church.  We even learned a new word they used to describe his song leading skills.  They called him the hymnheister.  I don’t know how that word came to be.  But, it was truly a word of admiration.  JM loved to sing about Jesus.  He loved to help others do the same.  There is a pause in a number of hymns that, while not found in the music, the church continues to follow.  These pauses were there because JM had added them, because he felt the music needed them for emphasis.  The congregation calls this type of pause the “JM pause”.

He was a colleague at the mill he worked at.  He was the driver of a fuel oil truck.  He was a farmer.

But, here’s what really mattered.  He was liked and he was loved.  He was admired.  He was the person people were happy to see.  In Elberton, GA this past Tuesday, I think I heard the nicest thing I’ve ever heard a man called. People described his as “sweet”.  He was so nice, so caring and so loved, he was described as sweet.  By men and women.  His sweetness drew a packed house at the old chapel at Dewy Rose Baptist Church.  At 96 years old, he was still so missed that a large number of people came and sang his favorite hymns.  He was so sweet and in love with Jesus, his passing was a moment to celebrate his life, his new world in heaven and his reunion with his wife, friends and family members.  I didn’t see many tears.  I saw lots of smiles.  Lots of fellowship.  Lots of singing.  In fact, and I know this sounds strange, his funeral had in many ways the feel of a wedding.  We were family members and friends who were going to miss one of our own, but really excited that he was heading to his next step in life.  In fact, I look forward to the day I can say hello to him again!

JM’s marker (will be finished soon.)

JM’s boys and their wives.  Johnny, Julie, Doug, Gail, Donald and Jean.

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