Strong-Willed Warrior, Brave Ruler, Bold Friend. The literal translation of the name William Richard Baldwin. I’ve always thought of my dad’s life as tragic. But when I look at how many people have been brought together because of the love we all have in common for this one man, I now see it as a miracle.
He was not an easy man to love, but he was worthy of love. He would tell it like he saw it; like it or not. He was insanely funny and at the same time hard as rocks. He was my truest friend and my greatest confidant. As far as his daughters are concerned, he was our hero. How could you ask for a more bad ass dad? I remember being a child and actually having the thought, “my dad can kick your dad’s ass!” So strong and so delicate all at once.
When Steve asked for dad’s blessing on our engagement, dad said, “I don’t know why you’d want to do it, and she’s one of the good ones! All you need is a dog and a horse.”
He once drove for hours in his broken down truck to see me play music in the desert. My girlfriends wanted to know “who’s the hot guy?” After throwing up in my mouth a little, I replied, “that’s my dad!”
One of my favorite memories with my dad is a Christmas I spent with him in Fontana. He lived in the barrio in a one room shack. He grilled carne asada for our Christmas dinner while we danced in the dust to a Vincente Fernandez ranchera ballad. This is how I will remember him.
One night while he was in Texas, he called out for me. It was a strange sound, I was certain something was wrong. I literally dropped what I was doing and ran across the house to help him. When I got to his room, he could not even speak. He pointed at the TV and nodded his head toward it as big tears fell from his eyes. A little girl, 7 or 8 years old, was singing on America’s Got Talent. She sang beautifully, but I couldn’t take my eyes off of dad. He so rarely shared these moments of fragility.
I firmly believe you cannot be hurt deeply unless you love deeply. Despite how we may have interpreted his words, actions or choices, he loved each and every one of us deeply. What a beautiful example of how fallible, forgiving and fragile our human condition is.
His story does not end with the scattering of his ashes. It carries on in our hearts; in how we choose to love and care for one another. He would have wanted us to stand on his shoulders and reach a little higher, do a little better than he did. I hope when we leave here we are a little more forgiving of our mothers and fathers; a little more selfless with our own children; a little more understanding and caring of one another.
Dad once told me that he believed in God and believed in Jesus and if we believed the same we would be together again. I hope to find him waiting at the pearly gates with a horse for me, ready to ride.
In 1 Corinthians 13, the bible tells us without love, we have nothing. We are so blessed to have called William Richard Baldwin, Jr. our brother, husband, son, dad, grandpa, even great-grandpa!
Meet you in the sky dad...