Thursday, October 30, 2008

A Hero Lost

When I look at my husband I see his father. His father was a man who taught his boys everything he knew, raising them to be some of the best men you'll ever meet. His father had an injury as a child and contracted osteomyelitis (sp?) causing deafness and infections in his long bones lasting his entire life. He never let that stop him; despite being deaf and so ill from osteo that he had to endure about 30 surgeries over the years, he worked hard so his wife could stay home raising all 7 of their kids. Chris' dad could do anything. He owned a barbershop in GH for 35 years and after retirement made a hobby of chair caning he carried on for over 30 years making many friends along the way. He raised horses most of his life and was a champion rider. He could make or fix anything you can think of. He was hilarious and could always tell a good joke. He read lips and was very opposed to deaf people relying on sign language - it left them out of the main stream of life, he said. He read voraciously and has literally thousands of books, but his favorites were always the cowboy stories. He loved music and as a deaf man used to win the dance contests down at the dance hall. He could feel the beat, he said. He was a life-long Republican, effectively cancelling his wife's life-long Democratic vote. He was married to his wife Angela, a fiery little Italian woman, for 41 years and sang a love song to her every morning of their life together until Monday of this week when he died on his way to make her morning coffee.

Richard Baldus was a man that deeply affected the lives of all those he met, and he was the idol of many young boys who practically lived over at the Baldus house during their childhood. I watched big strong grown men weep in the last few days over the loss of a man who can only be described as a hero. And when I look at my husband, I see his father.

Chris arrived shortly after his dad went down. He spent the next 15 minutes desperately trying to save his dying father, begging his dad to breathe again, begging God to help him save his dad. He did CPR so long, he had soaked through his shirt and sweatshirt.

He called me after the paramedics arrived, sobbing, saying, "My dad is dead, and I tried to save him, but I couldn't."

We all know that a day is appointed for our birth and a day is appointed for our death. There was nothing Chris could do to save his father on that day. But this is the thing that matters most: there are moments in our life when we are faced with a gut-wrenching, horrific moment where our action will prove the kind of person we are. How we react in that moment will change our life; if we chicken out because we are scared and don't know what to do, we will spend our life regretting that moment, and who we are as a person will forever be diminished. But my husband, terrified as he was, got on his knees and did everything a man could possibly do to save his father, and in that moment proved the mettle within his soul.

I've only been a part of Chris' family for a few years now, but I feel his father's death as deeply as if it were my own father. This man meant so much to his family and gave every ounce of himself everyday to make everything ok for each of them, and that is the kind of man he raised, the man I get to call my husband. I love Richard Baldus for who he was, for what he represented and for the gift he gave to everyone he met and those he never met - his integrity, caring, never-give-up spirit carries on in each one of his children and for that I am so grateful. I am grateful to have been able to share in the few short years I had with him and am absolutely blessed to be with a man that learned everything he knows from his father.


shortensweet said...

This is poetry. What an amazing guy.
You're very lucky to have such a wonderful man, I'm sorry for the loss that I know is being felt now and for years to come.

He was a special man. I'm glad you married one almost as special.

I love you all. said...

I read this at work and was in tears. What an amazing life story of an amazing man. You are very blessed to have found a little piece of that. I am so sorry for your family's loss. It sounds like he had an amazing long life filled with love,joy and humor and I hope you all find comfort. If there is anything I can do, please let me know.


bunnyjo georg said...

Shorty: I don't know what I did to deserve such a wonderful man and such a wonderful family. Maybe it's because God knows I'm such a crazy. Thank you for your love and support. It meant a lot that you called, and I got to talk to someone about it.

Barb: Thank you so much for your kind words and thoughts. It feels very good to have been a part of the life of a man of that caliber and to be in a family of that caliber. I feel very, very blessed even in the midst of our loss.

Big Plain V said...

Soooooooo sad.

That's about all there is to say.

VeeFlower said...

Laura, you need to read this aloud at the memorial service. Because you and Chris have only been together for a few years, I know it would mean the world to Chris to know that you GET IT...that he is what he is because of the kind of father he had, and you get what kind of man his father was. One of the heartbreaks in life is when you meet someone special and they don't get to know what a wonderful person you had in your life. Like he didn't get to know your Grandma. I think if you read this out loud at the memorial service it will fulfill his wish of having the best memorial service ever. I was personally very touched and felt it was written extremely well.

bunnyjo georg said...

BPV: Of course everyone is very sad, but there is so much comfort in knowing what an amazing person he was and what a wonderful life he had. The outpourings of care and sympathy are huge and from every corner of our community. Greg, Chris' brother, went down to the Tribune to put the obituary in along with a picture of their dad, and the woman behind the counter grabbed the picture and started wailing and ran over to another lady who started sobbing, too. Chris' dad has been going in there for years and teasing and having fun with those ladies, and they said, "Oh, no, we were afraid it was him!" Chris's dad is a man who made an impression, and I think the thing we are most proud of is how that spirit he had carries on in all his family.

Mom: Thank you for what you said. In writing this, I felt I really wanted to express who this man was and what he meant to the world around him. I gave it to Chris and he read it privately. Afterward he came to me and said it was beautiful and it made him cry. He took it work with him this morning I think to show his brother Pat and the people he worked with. Mr. Baldus was a man that his family can truly, truly be proud of, and I think that what I wrote helps convey that to whoever reads it. As for reading it at the funeral, I would have to change some things to make it more about all the kids because especially Greg would not like all the references to how much I admire Chris and how much he is like his dad. Sibling rivalry, what can we say?

cindy said...

i'm so sorry. if there's anything you need, please let us know.

this really made me cry. i talked to him a couple of times--he made me laugh.

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