Husband, wife woodwork through life

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Janiqua P. Robinson
  • 23d Wing Public Affairs
For some folks, working with your significant other may seem like a nightmare, but one Moody couple depends on one another in order to get the job done.

John Fischbach Sr., 23d Force Support Squadron recreation aide, and his wife Gail, 23d FSS volunteer, work side-by-side at the base woodshop to create wooden showpieces for team Moody.

"I love building things and making things," said Gail "When you build something and someone comes in and sees it and they're just overwhelmed with like 'oh my goodness, we never knew you could do this kind of work'. It makes me happy to see people happy."

Between the two of them, the duo has more than 35 years of experience, even though Gail began volunteering in 2012.

"[Working together] was kind of hectic at first," said John. "I was nervous letting her use the equipment at first because of her eyesight. Once she got familiar with the equipment and knew how it worked, what to do, and where to keep her hands, she got the hang of it."

Gail was diagnosed with Macular Degeneration, which is causing her eyesight to go bad. John was worried about her getting hurt while being home alone during the day and asked her to start coming to the shop with him. He started teaching her the woodworking basics, and now realizes how much he depends on her.

"Even though she's only a volunteer, she's a vital part," said John. "I couldn't get half the projects done without her. She gets a lot of the minor stuff done so I can work on the major stuff."

They can build almost anything, from shadow boxes and rocking chairs to the king-sized bed frame that they share, which was built out of wood from a Cyprus tree.

"It's very interesting, I've learned a lot about woodworking, how things are built and different ways you can do things that I never knew before," said Gail. "We create a lot of things and have a good time together."

Gail can identify the different sized sanders and tools she uses by where they are located and how they feel, but whatever she can't find, John finds for her. She can feel how even the sanding is, which enables her to tell when the piece she's working on is finished.

John focuses on the cutting and assembling of the pieces for the project. For example, the couple often makes frames that will be attached to presentation boards that will hang in buildings on base. John will cut out the pieces that will make up the frame, put the frame together and give it to Gail to be sanded down.

This March, the couple will celebrate 34 years of marriage, which was almost interrupted when tragedy struck Jan. 5th, 2015. John went to the hospital in the midst of a massive heart attack and underwent a triple bypass surgery.

"[Watching him go through his heart attack] was torment and misery. I didn't know if he was going to make it or not," said Gail, shaking her pixie-cut salt-and-pepper hair. "But, he did great with his recovery. He had his surgery that Monday morning and by lunchtime Tuesday, he was up and walking."

Although he bounced back extremely well, he said he realized his lifestyle needed to change. Gail stayed home with him during his recovery and motivated him to walk and eat right.

"She's my main motivator," John said, while fiddling with his all-white handlebar mustache. "My second motivator is every time I look in the mirror and see my big scar. We walk anywhere from nine to ten miles a day, counting the walking we do around the shop."

The couple has lost more than 140 pounds and in addition to their quality of life, the weight loss has improved their mobility and efficiency around the shop.

"We both seem to have a bit more energy," said John. "We don't get as tired as much as we did when we were carrying all that extra weight around. I try to get [projects] done a little quicker, but [the quality] is the same as before."

Through sickness and in health, whether they're creating masterpieces or walking around the base, no matter what obstacles life throws at the Fischbach's, they plan to have each other's back.

"We have our ups and downs just like anybody, but we work through it and press on," said John.

For some married couples, spending the entire day side-by-side may seem like a nightmare, but John and Gail thoroughly enjoy sharing this hobby, and working together.