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Chris Fabry
Married to Andrea since 1982. We have 9 children together and none apart. Our dog's name is Tebow.
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Where We Are Now

After finding and remediating mold twice in our Colorado home, we abandoned ship in October 2008. Because of the high levels of exposure, our entire family was affected. After months of seeing different specialists for all of the problems, we came to Arizona to begin comprehensive treatment to rid our bodies of the toxic buildup. In August 2009 we moved into a larger home, four bedrooms, south of Tucson, north of Mexico. I am doing my daily radio program/ writing from that location. Thanks for praying for us. We really feel it.

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Monday, November 8, 2010
I had a one-day meeting in Nashville and decided to combine that with a trip to see my parents in West Virginia. My father is 90, my mother 83, and they live alone at the top of a knoll surrounded by trees, turkey, deer, and occasional hunters.

I rented a car and drove the 6 hours from TN. I pulled into their driveway early on Friday morning while it was still dark and stretched out with a jacket as a cover. A knock on the window awakened me. It was their neighbor, Fred, who mows their hay and runs off the occasional hunters.

“You’re the youngest one!” he said.

He apologized for waking me, but it actually gave me a good feeling to have someone watching out for them.

My mother and father pray before each meal. They’ve been married almost 61 years. They kiss each other just before going to take a nap. One will bring a cover for the other or a warm cup of soup or decaf. Their silent ways of saying “I love you” are perhaps the most enlightening. The blood pressure kit that is dutifully produced for another check of heart rate. The simple act of cleaning one another’s glasses. Picking lint from a shirt or flicking off an errant spider.

My father’s memory is fading. People and faces come and go. The score from the game we watched the night before. My mother speaks in hushed tones about the depth of his failure to recall. She is his memory. She hears for him. Though at times he seems to hear and remember perfectly well, so it all could be an act.

It concerned me when I saw my mother frantically going through the backseat of their Chevy Impala. My father has always been a Chevy man, though there were the Mazda years in the 1970s and 80s. She was looking for her extra set of car keys—the ones with the grocery store discount tags attached. She guessed she lost them at some store. Or, perhaps my older brother had misplaced them after his trip home. We went through all the possibilities.

This did not sound plausible to me. How would she have driven home if she lost the keys at a store? My brother is detail oriented. I asked her questions. “What were you wearing when you last saw them? Have you changed coats? Could they be in the washer?”

I looked in the car, under the seats, and in the yard where they walk toward their new ramp—a not-so-gentle slope that covers the concrete steps that have been so cruel in recent years.

She wanted her radio moved into the TV room. I looked for the keys. Then, in the living room, I spotted an errant purse hiding on the coat tree and with much trepidation reached inside and grabbed a set of keys with grocery tags attached. Frank and Joe Hardy never felt any greater accomplishment. But the look on her face when I produced them was not relief, but sadness and loss.

We drove to see my uncle—a wiry, thin man whose favorite question to me was always, “How much do you weigh now, Chris?” He always spoke with his teeth together, daring you to decipher him. We walked the wide hallway, led by my bloodhound of a mother, and we found Uncle Johnny sleeping in a wheelchair, the television tuned to a soap opera and Cheerios littering the floor. Like a slumbering chipmunk by the hickory nut tree.

I rubbed his shoulder as his breathing grew heavier. This was a man who used to take me bowling. He would catch minnows and fish with me at our ponds.

He awoke and looked straight up at my father and said, “Robert.” They touched each other, my father sat, and my mother introduced the stranger in the room. He repeated my name, then craned his neck to see me. I turned off the TV.

I awaited the pivotal question, but all he could say was my name. We stayed a few minutes, making one-sided conversation, then made our way to the front again. On the way home my mother asked if we could go to the mall and buy her some new slacks. She told me from the back seat which lane to get in, then which entrance to use.

I parked and rolled down the windows for my father. I know you aren’t supposed to leave little children in the car alone, or pets, but what about 90-year-old men?

I caught up with my mother inside and actually saw a friend I hadn’t seen in 30 years, not counting Facebook. My mother wanted me to say hello to an old classmate, Connie, who worked at this particular store. I didn’t know Connie well during our educational sojourn through the West Virginia education we both endured. She approached my mother from another department, tentative, unsure of what this might entail. Perhaps an irate customer?

“You went to school with my Chris, didn’t you?” my mother said.

“Yes, I did,” Connie said.

“Well, here he is.”

Connie looked up and smiled as my mother spoke of some accomplishment I had achieved. I remembered as a child her pride that I could talk “early.” Instead of just pointing and grunting at the Little Debbie Cakes, I could actually sound out “Oatmeal Cream Pie.”

Connie was kind and humored both my mother and me. Then we parted, finding my father still in the car.


The next morning my mother was concerned because all she could see on TV was cartoons. She needed a box of some sort from the cable company. This led me on a journey into the heart of darkness that is the world of cable, but I was more than willing to risk my life and dignity, facing the slings and arrows of this mysterious world.

I returned with 2 converter boxes to find my father alone, reading the paper in front of a strangely silent TV. I flicked the power button on the remote and found a full slate of channels. There had been an isolated outage in their area.

That afternoon we noticed it was getting a little chilly in the house. We discovered the gas was off, which set in motion another equally compelling adventure comparable to “The Lost Key Mystery.” My mother and father, barely ambulatory enough to navigate the new ramp, walked stiff legged toward an undulating field filled with unseen crevices, creeks, and gullies. Carrying a pipe wrench and a screwdriver, they led me to a pipe sticking out of the ground and proceeded to argue what would happen if I “blew the well.”

I will not go into detail here about what happened, but it was my mother’s tenacity in calling the drilling company and getting “Jerry” to drive the 60 miles to the farm that saved our lives from the bitter 45-degree temperatures and the sure explosion that would have followed if I had “blown the well.”

When I finally left them on Saturday night the hot water heater and furnace were working and the gas had returned. Game 3 of the World Series was history and it was time for me to leave. We hugged and kissed at the house on the knoll and as I drove away they flicked the light on and off, a signal I remembered from my youth. I carry that flickering light with me every day.

6 comments:

Valerie Mann said...

What a good story, remindful of the West Virginia roots!

BJ Hoff said...

Love the mountains, love your books.

Karen said...

I am writing in regards to Nov 4th. There was a Messianic Rabbi who called in, his name was Gary. We would like to know if he was from Ohio and if he has an Messianic Congregation. Can you tell me that Mr. Fabry???

Shalom!
Karen

Chris Fabry said...

Karen,
I think our Rabbi friend was from Florida. Sorry.

Rex Chambers said...

I well remember that house, that 'holler', and the gentle kindness of your mother, both to me when we were kids and to my mom in the latter years of her life whenever they ran into each other, usually at 'Sovine's' grocery, when they would swap stories, usually about you and I. Reading the post brought a little smile and a little tear both to my face. Thanks.

Chris Fabry said...

Rex,
I drove by your old house and the farm beside it early that Friday morning and had a lot of good memories. Thanks for reading about the trip. Happy Thanksgiving.