Guest post…by Dave Fairchild
May 1 – 60 years ago today Chris Christoph and Dale Fairchild officially tied the knot in a church in Gwelo, Southern Rhodesia. And they have been tied together like glue ever since, and I hope for many years still to come.
As you have read in their blog, Chris came to Africa as a missionary teacher and ended up working for Dale’s dad, who was the superintendent of schools in the area. At one point, Dale had to farm out his German shepherd dog, and Chris was the lucky recipient. At first, Dale came to visit the dog, but soon visiting Chris became much more important. He proposed on his 25th birthday and she, luckily for me, said yes.
After returning to the States so I could be born in the U.S. of A., they eked out a hand-to-mouth existence for a number of years, budgeting each and every penny Dale earned, picking and canning vegetables and wild strawberries, teaching their kids to enjoy playing with cardboard boxes, blocks of wood, and oatmeal containers, and of course, books…
For our house was filled with the glorious world of books, poetry, and the wonderful vistas of imagination. As Emily Dickinson said, “there is no frigate like a book, to take us worlds away.” And through those books we traveled the globe, over and over. There was the joys of visiting the library (a three-mile round trip on foot) and coming home loaded with new books to look at. Seeing the bookmobile coming down the street. Finally learning how to read BY MYSELF and then teaching my sister how to read on the sly without Mom and Dad knowing about it. The hours and hours of books they recorded on reel-to-reel tapes that we listened to at night when we went to bed. Yeah, we were lucky indeed to be immersed in the written word.
As we grew up, my parents moved from the home they had originally bought in town and purchased a new home close to the little church school they wanted us to attend. My sister and I were old school; we walked to school or rode our bikes instead of going by car. I still remember the pride I felt the first time I managed to ride all the way to school on my bike…without touching the handlebars! (sorry Mom, never told you that story before)
Outside of school, we spent hours outside playing or working in the garden, going camping in the woods, or chasing wild critters with my dad. I’m sure we gave more than one chipmunk grey hairs as we chased them around the woods. And my mom gave me more than a couple of gray hairs and sore hands as she whipped a baseball across the yard into my glove. And no, Mom didn’t throw like a girl, even if she WAS a teacher…
All the while they continued to scrimp and save to give us the best education they could afford. Sister Biz and I both went through boarding high school and college on their family income; a sacrifice that I appreciate far more now than I ever could have then. But most of all, they taught me the joy of learning; the joy of keeping busy, and the joy of helping others. As you can tell by their blog, those are lessons they continue to practice each and every day.
As I read their daily entries, I am often humbled by how much more they seem to get done than I do. Of course being retired helps in that regard, but still! And yet, I suspect that that is exactly what keeps them young and ready every morning for another busy day.
I’ll close this post with my heart-felt congratulations on 60 years of marriage, and my deeper love and thankfulness that I grew up in the house that I did, along with these two wonderful people. So thanks for all the life lessons, the continuing examples of how to make a marriage work, and the special status that being the “onliest” provides.
Much love from your son (and quit sniffling, Mom),