My friend Bob just died.
He was my age. We met a Chick Fil A. Back in the day (if three years ago can be considered “back in the day”), my wife and I would take our three kids to Chick Fil A for family night on Tuesday nights for music and a balloon guy and free ice cream and cheap food…. It was right up our alley. Bob’s family and my family looked very similar. They had three little girls who were near the ages of our three kids…. Similar temperament as well. I think we met because I congratulated him on his beard, and I instantly liked him. For a while there, we went to Family Night at Chick Fil A just about every Tuesday. It got to where I was disappointed when Bob and his family weren’t there.
When we first met, he was a teacher, but he was working on his masters in administration stuff because he wanted to be a principal. He was soft-spoken and kind and confidant. The more we talked, the more it became clear that he was adventurous in a way that I genuinely envied. And it wasn’t like he was name-dropping the places he had been or the things he had done…. It was just unavoidable that those sorts of accomplishments were going to come up if you spent any time talking to Bob.
One night, Chick Fil A had this thing where you could get free food if you came dressed up like a cow. In my normal half-assed fashion, I safety-pinned some pieces of black construction paper to my kids’ white shirts, and I told them to moo. One of my kids was cold, so I went out to our van to get her a sweater, and there, in the parking lot, were Bob and Jennifer and the girls–all of them under one cow-patterned sheet–trying to take steps through the parking lot, but not going anywhere. The sounds of a child crying came from somewhere near the udders, and it was the kind of crying that didn’t seem like it was going to end any time soon. You could tell they had put a lot of effort into that costume, but one of their girls was just not having it. I remember thinking that I would have probably yelled in that situation, but both of them–husband and wife–just laughed. It was no big deal.
We talked many times about trying to get our families together away from the organized chaos that was Chick Fil A’s Family Night. I carried the card that he gave me with his number on it in my make-shift wallet (it’s basically just bills wrapped around some cards and whatnot) to remind me to make plans, but–as so often happens–all of a sudden it would be Tuesday again, and we hadn’t gotten together.
We finally got together one Sunday afternoon in the summer. They invited us over to their house to go swimming in their pool. Our kids were small enough to have the afternoon be nothing resembling relaxing–I was on high alert the whole time trying to keep all those small people from dying. It turns out that they had invited us over for their daughter’s birthday party, and we didn’t even know. Still they gave our kids these party favors that might as well have been bars of solid gold to them. The sun had gotten lower, and the pool was in the shade. The kids were out of the pool, and most of the other guests had left, but there my family was…. like a bunch of goofballs, talking about “What are you guys doing for dinner?” If we were imposing, they didn’t let on. It was a complete day. The kind of day that makes your bed feel so. Freaking. Good.
While talking with Bob on that perfect summer day, I started to suspect that our political ideologies might be a bit dissonant. I think he had an NRA sticker on his car, or something. Plus it’s hard for me to keep that stuff completely out of my conversations–It was even harder for me three years or so ago. Right around the bend was all the hullabaloo about Chick Fil A donating money to anti-gay groups, and those Chick Fil A run-ins with Bob and his family became a thing of the past.
After we lost touch, they had another baby…. A boy. Little Bobby. And if you’re wondering why I’m writing this about a person who truly is more of an acquaintance than a “friend,” here’s why: Bob Fraser was a good dude. It took almost no time for you to tell that the bearded man standing in front of you was a good father. He was smart, he was driven, and he was kind. I don’t know how he died, but it was sudden and unexpected and what matters is that his family needs help right now…. He leaves behind an amazing wife and three beautiful daughters who are hurting. And he leaves behind a son who will only have the stories of the people who loved his father to know how cool his daddy was–Maybe even people like me who made a friend at a Chick Fil A.
So if you are able, GIVE SOME MONEY to this family who really needs your help. Money should be the last thing on their minds right now as they grieve the loss of a father and husband. People can raise $100,000 in eight hours for a florist who refuses to sell flowers to a gay couple, this kind of thing should be as easy as anything. There are several thousand people who read this blog, and I know some of you value it…. Help this family out. If you consider yourself part of the Church, this is what Church looks like. It’s taking care of people who need it…. And if you feel like praying, that’s fine, but also pray that God will stir your heart enough to help take care of this family in their time of need. Please GIVE!