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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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Friday, August 30, 2013
Have you seen the old guy in the parking lot? He’s waiting for his wife. He’s biding time. Letting life pass him by until he can pull up to the front and let “the wife” in. I have not wanted to be that man. I have not aspired to this endeavor. It has always looked a little sad to me. I'm not trying to be harsh here.

I’ve always felt my wife doesn’t want me to become that old guy. She deserves more than a chauffeur in her twilight years.

Age dulls the senses and makes you oblivious to fashion. You wear black socks with sandals because it’s more important how you feel than how you look. You don’t care how you look. You don’t care how others younger than you perceive you because they’re not coming to your funeral anyway.

I was sitting in the parking lot of Walgreens the other day and realized I had become that old guy. I had my Cincinnati Reds hat on and gray hair was sticking out in unseemly ways. I need a haircut, but pulling the hat down makes me presentable. White shirt, red shorts, black socks.

The dog was with us. We’d taken the dog to the Farmer’s Market. Big mistake. He was too excited to contain, so we put him in the car and listened to him yap while we picked out carrots and broccoli. And then, on the way home, my wife said, “Could you take me by Walgreens?”

“What do you need?”

I thought she’d say she needed Epsom salts or hydrogen peroxide or Advil. A prescription, maybe. She sent me there the other day for 100% juice, any kind, she said. Didn’t matter the sugar content. So I walked up and down the aisles and finally found the juice and then called to make sure she really meant it.

Just like old guys will do. I’ve not only become the old guy in the car waiting in the parking lot, I’m the old guy who goes on a mission but has to call to make sure he’s getting the right thing.
“I want to take a picture of toothpaste for my blog,” she said.

I was supposed to accept this and just keep driving. I knew it in my gut. Don’t even look at her. Don’t smile or laugh. This is what I said “I do” to more than thirty years ago, driving to Walgreens to take a picture of toothpaste.

And I did. And I didn’t smile or laugh or question, I just drove and parked and sat there like those other old guys I’ve seen.

This has been my view. Again, not to be harsh or judgmental, but I've seen them as young and vibrant and at some point they give up. People point and they walk. Like sheep, they listen for “the voice” and they obey, herding themselves into respectable pens. And they listen to ball games on the radio in the parking lot. At least that's what I do.  

I have bucked this for years. I’ve followed my wife into Stein Mart and Hobby Lobby and Pier 1, acting as if I’m supposed to be there. Milling around candy displays and lusting at the stack of Milky Ways I know I shouldn’t have because of what it will do to my digestive system. Or standing over the cast-off items at Ross, thinking I might actually want to watch 50 episodes of some old TV show I saw in reruns as a child or that the sandals with built-in socks would get me noticed.

“I’m ready,” she said one day, standing with her purse and bags. Looking at me. Willing me to leave. Calling like a siren. Years ago I would ask to be lashed to the main mast to see if I could resist the voices. Now, I just shuffle off behind her and carry the bags.

It was in the Walgreens parking lot when I understood why men wind up in the car, in the driver’s seat, with the dog, waiting. I saw it clearly. And I realized I was wrong about them. I had NOT become a man without a purpose, I had become a man with a different purpose. Sitting at Walgreen’s made me realize these guys are the smart ones. They can’t hear the same frequencies as younger people and they have to look over their glasses to actually see things. But they are hearing frequencies of the heart. They're seeing beyond themselves.

Perhaps instead of driving his wife out of duty or to avoid guilt, he actually WANTED to be there. Perhaps he wanted to do this because after all the years of everything revolving around him and his needs and desires and wants and vision, he understands, finally, that life is really not all about him. At least, not JUST about him. It’s about him and her become an “us” or a "we."

So if you see me in the car, in some parking lot, weep not for me. I’m not really waiting. I’m saying “I do” at the speed of idle.
Wednesday, August 28, 2013
My pal, Jim Whitmer, wrote and included the photo below. He and his wife,  Mary, met Jerry 46 years ago this fall. Jim writes:

We were all in a major photo shoot for Campus Life Magazine that was published in Feb. '68 - the lead article was about the "pressures" on a youth worker - and I was supposed to represent the stereotypical youth worker.  The attached 2-page photo spread show me (in the goofy cardigan sweater, with Mary hanging on me.)  But I've noted one of the important "extras" on the set.  He was known as "Moose" Jenkins back then, and the magazine actually called him that in the credits of the models.
 We've been friends with Jerry ever since.  Just a little "history" for you.

Respond to this and tell me what famous actor or literary character you think Jerry resembled 45 years ago.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013
I learned that my 17 year old son has more patience than I do.

I learned that what’s worth doing is worth doing right except when it comes to things you get wrong and you’ve already been at it six hours. Those things you can live with. Like the little plastic doodads that are supposed to go into the round, metal thingamajigs at the end so it doesn’t look like you put it together yourself.

You don’t have to put all those #6 screws in the back. I know. I took some out to finish the top drawer.

Lying in the floor and whining, “This is too hard,” does not help.

Sitting in the floor for seven hours is hard on your back but not as hard as standing for seven hours after you’ve lugged the thing in the room.

“Team lift” is a relative concept.

Sitting on the carpet for long periods of time makes you want to scratch your backside.

The desire to scratch is directly proportional to the size of the backside.

You can get younger children to laugh by scratching your backside and describing it with a word you’ve told them not to say. With a New York accent. But the 17 year old will not smile because he wears headphones.

Don’t cross your legs for more than five minutes at a time or you won’t be able to stand for a week.

It does not help to ask your son, after every step, what step you’re on. When you are on step #13 of 68, all you can see is 500 pounds of particleboard.

It does not help for other people to walk into the room and ask, “So, what step are you on?”

It does not help for people to walk in the room and say, “Wow, this is taking a long time, isn’t it?”

It does not help for other people to ask, when walking into the room again, “Is this the hardest thing you’ve ever tried to put together?”

It does not help to come in and look at my hat that has a flashlight duct-taped to it and say, “Dad, you know they make head lamps, right? Tee hee hee.”

It does not help to come in. Period.

Seven hours putting together a desk is a ridiculously long time. Especially when you have two people working together who are reasonably intelligent.

Seven hours putting together a desk makes you question the reasonable intelligence of yourself and your coworker.

The moment when you push the drawer in and it only goes halfway and there’s four inches of clearance above it is just about the worst.

The moment you finish the hutch and turn it over and see the back of one piece of particleboard staring at you is worse than the drawer thing.

The moment you realize you’ve screwed three screws into the wrong side of the finished piece of wood and that it will stare at you the rest of your life, or as long as you keep the desk, is worse still.

Seven hours of putting together a desk is a test of your faith in the sovereignty of God. And your sanctification.

It’s the day after and I still feel like scratching my backside.

However, when you’re putting the desk together for your wife who hasn’t had a decent desk in five years and deserves a space to call her own and you finish and arrange the computer just so, and finagle all the billion cords through the back of it and she looks at it and smiles and acts as if you just slew a dragon for the damsel in distress, it makes all the pain and questions and frustration worth it.

Just don’t tell her about those three holes in the front that shouldn’t be there or the doohickeys we didn’t put in the round silver things. And yes, it was the hardest thing I’ve ever put together, thank you very much.
Saturday, August 10, 2013
My son is playing sports again. He’s been pestering us for three years, ever since we signed his brother and him up and I was elected coach of his previous team. We had five players.

It was a baseball team. That was a season that never ended, I’m still replaying it. But now he’s 12 and all grown up and ready to run the bases again. So he went to a couple of practices before the season starts and they were doing drills and I was standing around not thinking much about anything except how to stay cool in August in Arizona.

I wandered out onto the field to help. One group was taking batting practice and another group was in left field, so I thought I would stand between the two and “protect” the children (who were of varying ages and sizes). But I didn’t have a glove. It was just me barehanded standing there, watching, hoping.

Ten kids up. Ten kids barely hit the ball out of the infield. Until the Babe stepped in and belted one to left that went over my head by ten feet and I just stood there wondering what I would have done if I’d had a glove. Probably wouldn’t have helped, but still, hope springs eternal.

The ball landed between two six-year-olds who were laughing and pushing each other and doing anything but thinking of baseball. They must have heard me yelling, “Look out!” They didn’t flinch as the ball hit between them and rolled to the fence.

That’s when I remembered my glove, which is the point I’m getting to. A baseball glove is a sacred thing to a boy who loves baseball. You sleep with your glove. You eat with it. You sit on it on the bus. And when you’re in the outfield, if that’s where they banish you, you hold it to your face and smell the leather, the cowhide, and look at the names.

Writing on your glove is like writing in the Bible. Sort of. It felt like I was breaking some commandment. On the outside thumb I wrote, “Rose.” My favorite player. This was before the truth came out about Charlie Hustle, of course.

Tony Perez. Johnny Bench.

I couldn’t spell “Concepcion” back then, so I left him off the glove. This was not racist, it was spellist.

Foster. Griffey. The names went on.

In small letters I wrote “Menke” for Dennis Menke who played third one year. Or ten, I can’t remember. And one glorious summer I wrote “King.” Not for Martin Luther King, but Hal King, who hit a game-winning pinch-hit home run over the Dodgers in game 1 of a doubleheader the Reds swept. This was back when you bought one ticket and saw two games instead of the way they do it now, which makes me want to write other words on my glove.

Back then, back when you were a kid, a name meant something. You aspired to achieve like those on your glove. You aspired to play like a champion. To be the very best you could possibly be. To throw as hard as Don Gullett. To leap and catch a ball like Cesar Geronimo.

Lee May and Tommy Helms were on the glove in the summer of ’71. Both were traded. I couldn’t believe it. Who was this Joe Morgan fellow?

You never know whose name will wear off and whose name you’ll carry. Each summer I’d go over the names that needed to stay and change the ones that had gone.

This is life. What seems important one year will fade the next. The trick is to find what lasts early on and stick with it.

So whose name is on your glove?
Saturday, August 3, 2013
My father died two years ago on August 4th, my daughter's birthday. He was buried on my wife's birthday, three days later. It seems like such a long time ago and yet, it feels like yesterday in a way.

I made it home late the night before he died and through the early morning hours my brother and sister in law tended to my father as I slept on the couch outside of his bedroom. This was an act of love on their part, to help my father die in the home he had built, where he wanted to be, where my mother wanted him to be. They had been there through the transitions and would be here for this last one.

Early the next morning my brother awakened me and said it was time. When I made it to my father's bed he had stopped breathing. My mother came and sat beside me, closest to him and patted his hand. Then she looked at his chest and back at us and realized what was true. What she had feared and longed for.

I expected to hear the weeping and keening of my mother. We comforted her and sat with her and we talked about him. I tried to tell her she had done a good job taking care of him, that she had loved him well, but the words were hard to get out.

The hospice nurse arrived and he kindly walked us through the next steps. We destroyed the medication my father had been given and we waited on the hearse from the funeral home.

The saddest sound was not our crying. That was strangely comforting. We were sharing in this passage, remembering, celebrating, and trying to honor a good man who had lived well and loved well.

The saddest sound was not the wheels of the gurney down that long, narrow hallway, or the moment when my mother stopped them for one last kiss.

I don't know, maybe that was the saddest sound. Just thinking about it sends me over the edge.

But, perhaps, the saddest sound came as we were at his bedside, wondering what to do next. What do you say to a woman whose dearest friend is no longer with us, or to his children? What do you say to yourself when the only father you've ever known is still and lifeless? What do you do?

My brother walked to the end of the bed or into the other room, I can't remember which, and I wondered what he was doing. Could he not bear the sorrow? Did he need to be alone?

He walked over and turned off the machine supplying oxygen to my father. Just a flick of a switch and the whir of the machine silenced. It's something my father would have done. When there's a motor running that isn't needed, you turn it off.

That was the saddest sound to me. The final realization that yes, this is the end. This is goodbye. The room grew quiet. Uncomfortably so. My mother blew her nose. I leaned back in the creaky chair. And then, outside, somewhere near the hillside he loved, where he drove his tractor and walked and whistled at the cows, the birds began their singing. Actually, they had been there all along, we just couldn't hear them because of the motor.

My father was finally free of pain, free of the need for oxygen, free from taxes and politics and the groundhogs in his garden. I like to think of him somewhere on the back 40 of heaven, cutting a field of hay for God. On a new Massey Ferguson that never needs a tune-up. Feeding hay to lions and lambs and swapping stories with Moses and my Uncle Pooch. Returning from whatever chore he's been given with a grin and two lungs full of air that feel like the breath of heaven, because it is.

He's in a place where they don't need oxygen machines. And where you don't have to turn off the lights. Because the Light is always there.