Remembering Brian Hughes – Innocence, Prison, Mental Illness, AIDS and Family

My parents Pat and Brigid Hughes sat down with me to discuss what it was like to raise a child with mental illness.  It has been 5 years since my brother Brian died and today (April 24th) would have been his 43rd birthday.  I felt compelled to share his story with you.

I think about my brother all the time.  He is with me everyday in my business life and my personal life.  I am forever grateful to my parents for making Brian part of our lives, and for their extraordinary generosity in sharing his story with people we have yet to meet.

Please watch this video to meet my brother Brian and our parents.

After I shot 40 minutes of video interviews with my parents, I struggled to tell this story.  I approached my cousin Terry Maday who is in the film business and asked for his help in telling a story that brings clarity to my brother’s life.   Terry and Oscar Ayala both did an amazing job and I will be forever grateful for their support.

22 thoughts on “Remembering Brian Hughes – Innocence, Prison, Mental Illness, AIDS and Family

  1. Pat,
    I can’t express my sadness after watching the video of your brother Brian and your remarkable family. That it ended with joyous memories can give a small amount of peace to everyone. Thank you for honoring your brother in this way.
    Love Marlene Lassman

  2. thank you for that wonderful piece on brian. i miss him… but celebrate the honor of knowing him every day—through wonderful people like your family. i’m so very proud and honored to have the hughes’ in my life! (and, awesome job on this terry! super well done. 🙂

  3. This was a beautiful tribute to your brother. Just beautiful. You are such a unique family. I am honored to know you, Pat Hughes. I love the ending…there were a lot of good times. Well done.

  4. What a lovely tribute to Brian! How I wish I could have met him…my heart is very heavy for your entire family…thank you for sharing Brian’s story…I know it was not easy!
    Dianne Ryan

  5. My last memory of Brian was seeing him in Lawrence, KS sitting in front of Strong Hall. I recognized his smile first. What a beautiful tribute to such a sweet soul. Thank you!

  6. Patrick–such a beautiful tribute to your brother and to your parents. Mental illness remains the last worst disability with such limited understanding and ineffective treatment. I hope this sweet short piece will bring us all just a little closer to the compassion and empathy our brothers and sisters need. Love you as always.

  7. Dear Pat, Brian and I shared some special times in high school and I will never forget his sweet soul. This video is a wonderful tribute to his memory. I lost my sister in 2003 and wish I had the courage to make such a loving and lasting video in her memory. Thank you for sharing this with the world. – Lori N.

  8. A stunning tribute to Brian, a person who was a treasured, loved family member with problems so little understood. And to your parents who are amazing “survivors”. They did everything they could for their child in hopes of alleviating his struggles. Bless them for all they have done. And thank you, Pat, for all that you do. You are an amazing person and we are all blessed that you can demonstrate your love — of family and of anyone who is ‘different’ — in so many memorable and beneficial ways. Love you, Pat!!

  9. All I can say is WOW!!! I am truly grateful to have known my “Birthday Twin”, but more importantly how grateful to know ALL of you! How your parents kept it together for that interview…I was in tears! My respect and admiration for them was high to begin with, this just catapulted them to another realm! God Bless all of you and Happy Birthday Brian!

  10. So moving. I’m sitting here with tears in my eyes. Had no idea of Brian’s story. Thank you Hughes family for sharing.

  11. I don’t know you or your family personally, but I feel so close to you after watching this beautiful tribute. My son has bipolar disorder and I know the pain and struggle involved in helping a child with mental illness navigate the world. I can say that treatments and medications have advanced, but society’s attitudes toward people with mental illness has not. I pray for my child and others like him that the world can view people with mental illnesses with compassion and get to know them for the wonderful people that they are. Thank you so much for sharing your story.

  12. Growing up with the Hugh’s family at St. A’s & knowing what you were going thru-I just want to say THANK YOU for sharing your story.It was a BEAUTIFUL tribute & brought me to tears. I have always admired your family-my folks had 5 kids, 8 kids–you are ANGELS..

    My mother was Bi-Polar,Manic Depressive-Epileptic & Brigid, I totally agree with you when you said “if only we knew more then”. My family also struggled tremendously with Mom’s illness & even tho she passed of Breast Cancer, she knew in the end of all that she had suffered through & was at peace with herself & most importantly with GOD.. MUCH LOVE TO YOU ALL…..

  13. What a wonderful, loving, compassionate story. My two nieces struggle with mental illness. The roads some have to travel are so much more difficult than others. I’m glad your brother had a family like yours. Thanks for sharing and enriching us.

  14. Everyone – thank you very much for your comments and for watching the piece. It was a great experience doing it but a lot more difficult when it’s about your own family. My brother was a wonderful person. I think during all the trying times of his life, people never knew exactly what to say and that’s completely human. So to be able to do this now and remember Brian in this way, is good for us. With over 40 minutes of footage, things were left out. The one thing that I always thought about with Brian’s life was just how many people were there for him. Not only institutionally in ways of the prison system, the myriad of non profit organizations, the friends, the family – someone or something was always there for him. Now matter how low things seemed, there was an agency or person there to support Brian. Thank you all for your love and support on this piece and the video blog in general – we are enjoying this process together. Thanks. Patrick Hughes, Jr.

  15. I have had many a Pepsi with Brigid over the years but none like this. As I wipe the tears away I am remembering one day I met you Brigid on a street in Wilmette and you told me what Brian had been through and that he was in prison. I was so overwhelmed with saddness and I asked you how you managed to out of bed in the mornning. You replied “when everyone looks to you for strength then you get out of bed”. I believe that God only sends his “special” children, like Brian, to very special parents and families. This is certainly true in Brian’s case.

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