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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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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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Friday, April 5, 2013

My cousin, Beth, died this week. She was 62 and had been through years of failing health. But I want to tell you how her encouragement affected me early in life.

Beth was eleven years older than me, so my brothers knew her better. They went to school with her and her younger brother, Ronnie. Ronnie was one of the most fascinating people I’ve ever known, but he was a recluse. He grew a beard and walked the highway with a stick and to people who didn’t know him, he seemed scary. He talked in a fast, staccato clip, and would show you pictures in an album he kept and retrieve minute details of the pictures and tell jokes with amazing linguistic ability. But he was strange. And he died like Beth did, mostly alone. I’ve often wondered about the family dynamics in that little house in Culloden.

Beth was full of laughter. Chubby cheeks and a smile and always chewing gum, and then you’d say something and out would come this belly laugh that shook the whole house. Beth did not care who heard her laugh.

She was doing a school project at some point, it must have been early in college, on child development and she came to our house and gave me a test. She sat at the dining room table and leaned down to eye level with me and asked questions, had me look at shapes and colors and more I can’t remember. I remember the smell of that glue. I remember her face. Her eyes. Looking inside me, drawing me out. And then her laugh and the way her face jiggled and her eyes sparkled and then she gathered her things and spoke in hushed tones to my mother about how bright I was, how intelligent, how verbal. I think Beth saw something in me and let me know it before anyone else. I think she knew I could hear. She was the first person who saw a spark, I guess. I’ll always love her for that.

Beth introduced me to my first Jewish friend. I don’t recall his name and at the time I did not know I was a Gentile. We didn’t have many Jewish families there in the holler. I really only knew two types of people, those who lived in Cabell County and those who lived in Putnam County. Our road divided the two. And there wasn’t that much difference, to tell you the truth.

But Beth brought this boy to us who, when he ate his peanut butter and jelly sandwich with my mother and me looking on, bowed his head and began to pray. Right there at the kitchen table with the linoleum floor and the cats climbing the brick outside the back door, waiting for scraps. It wasn’t as if we had never said grace before, but we usually weren’t as thankful for peanut butter and jelly as we were chicken and rice or one of the other dishes my mother would cook. Lunch was something we did ourselves, without God’s help, I guess. I can’t remember if he was wearing a yarmulke, but I think he was. And when he bowed his head, my mother looked at me and nodded, as if I should do the same, so I did. And when I opened my eyes he was staring at me and eating his sandwich as if I were the crazy one. He knew what he was praying about and I was keeping up appearances.

Beth also took me on a drive that, as I recall, was a dark and scary experience. I believe this other boy was with me in the back seat and she pulled up to a house in Huntington and went in, leaving us there to listen to Carole King sing about it being too late, baby. Blurred, shadowy images come back from that night, and that song. Every time I hear it I think of her.

She moved away, like many do, and found a husband and a new life in Illinois. But health problems caught up with her. Maybe it was the whipped cream. She had a son. Then grandchildren. But after her father died, she moved back to the little house across the street from the church. There was a lot of pain in her life.

I don’t know if she knew she was loved. I don’t know how alone she felt at the end. I only know it’s too late to tell her all these things. It’s too late, Now darlin’. It’s too late.