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.