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Goodbye, Chuck

The memorial service yesterday for famous Deaf artist Chuck Baird was touching and special. It seems that there are three kinds of people that connected with him: those who are closest to him and have personal relationship with him, those who are art lovers, and those who are Jesus Christ followers like him. It is obvious he was a very well-liked and well-renowned man. Not only was he a great artist, he was also a great storyteller. He touched thousands of lives, including mine, in one way or another, and for that reason, he will be forever remembered.

He died a simple man, yet he showed the abundance in everything- especially in his paintings. He was profusely creative and his love for art was endless. He showed his love and his beliefs in all of his artworks.

He stopped by my home twice, the first time in October and a second time in December. The first time, Renny was living with me. That time I didn’t think Renny would relapse again a week later. Chuck talked to us about his faith in Jesus Christ and how he found love through Him during his long battle against cancer which was ravaging his body and eating away at his bones.

Sitting in a recliner, Chuck told us about the power of praying. I’ve read and heard about how powerful group prayers could be. I am not a church-goer, nor is Renny, but Chuck told us that his church was praying for Renny’s recovery. We were very grateful for that. After a hour or so of talking, we thanked him and he left. We pondered about him for the rest of that evening but eventually his visit moved to the back of our minds and we moved on.

After Renny’s relapse, Chuck stopped by my home again. I was surprised, but, of course, always pleased to see him. I noticed he had lost a lot of weight as I led him to the recliner. His appearance changed drastically in a short time since the last four years he’s been fighting his cancer. We chatted a bit and then he paused. He said, “I was in the area when I thought I’d stop by to see how Renny’s doing. But the real reason I came is that I want to tell you how much I admire Renny.” To him, Renny was an unique man with a great vision. Chuck saw the glow in Renny’s eyes as he talked about the things that excited him and noticed how Renny had the charismatic ability to attract people. I was in the midst of grieving and feeling angry that it took Chuck’s observations to remind me of the good things I’ve forgotten about Renny. Despite the few times we met, his description of Renny was spot-on.

We spoke of forgiveness; that we can only move on in our life if we forgive others for their wrongdoings. The concept is universal, found in every religious book out there. I learned, “Forgive the person, not the action.” While I agreed with Chuck, the wound was still so fresh that at the time, forgiving Renny wasn’t in the picture.

After I left for my parents’ house in Ohio for the holidays, Chuck’s health deteriorated rapidly and when I got back, he was always in and out of the hospital. Last Friday, my friend broke the news of his passing and I was heart-stricken. The fact that his physical being is gone forever finally sank in. He was thoughtful for paying us visits and I wish I could say the same about visiting him. That’s why I felt the urge to write this blog post as a way of remembering our conversations. It’s been almost three months since Renny went away and I still have mixed feelings about forgiving him, but I know that deep inside me I will forgive him one day. After seeing Chuck near his final days, I can imagine that his soul is out there right now, cancer-free and among the angels, celebrating the amazing life he had on this earth. With this thought I can’t help but smile.