To All the Women in My Life Who I Truly Love 

By Rodney Baylis | June 5, 2023

I am a 63-year-old African American son, father, grandfather, brother, godfather, uncle, grand-uncle, cousin, and husband. Having: a mother, two daughters, four granddaughters, seven sisters, two goddaughters, ten nieces, five grandnieces, a host of girl cousins, and a wife. As they began to grow into womanhood, all of these women needed me in their lives so that I could help assist them to navigate safely through society. As I grew up, the elders protected the women in our family. So, I was supposed to accept the responsibility that comes with being the eldest male.

In 1997, I was sentenced to 71 years to life under the three strikes, you are outlaw.  This is exactly how I was feeling at my sentencing hearing: out of this life on earth, a dead man walking, pass go, straight to prison. Therefore, I began to write this letter (as if I was passing away) to my wife, daughters, sisters, mother, and the rest of the women in my family. It read like this:

To all the women in my life who I truly love,  

When I am gone, just release me, and let me go. So I can move into my afterglow.  I gave you all my love; you can only guess how much love and happiness you gave me. I’d like to thank you all for the family loves you each have shown me in your own special way. Now it is time for me to travel all alone. 

So grieve for a while, there is grief, you must; be sure you comfort grief with trust, and then it will go away soon. It is only for a while, now the time has come for us to part. Let us bless the memories within our hearts. When you must come this way alone, I will greet you with a smile and a “welcome home.” I am truly sorry for not protecting the women in the family. I left you alone, so you traveling alone too. 

Those were my feelings 27 years ago being sentenced to life in prison, traveling alone.

Obviously, I have made some terrible mistakes throughout my life, which I now regret. But even when I messed things up, the women in my life were not keeping track. Today, I can truly say that women are one of the reasons why I worked so hard during 27 years while being incarcerated to become a better person. Every woman in this letter, and so many other women, have assisted and supported me on the journey. I have achieved many accomplishments during my time in prison. One of them is that all these women are still at my side today.

Time has changed a lot of things. The way I was thinking is one of them. However, there is one thing that has not changed; y’all are trusting, caring, honest, and loyal and always standing by my side through it all, guaranteeing that there will always be a bond of love and friendship between a son, a father, a grandfather, a brother, a godfather, an uncle, a great-uncle, a cousin, and a husband. That is why you all are my favorite girls, and fatherhood is very important to me.