Elson Arnold – Rest In Peace

We received a phone call from my sister in law, Karen, early this morning with the very sad news that her father, Elson, had passed away peacefully in his sleep over night.  Chris & I last saw Elson at the family Thanksgiving dinner before we headed south from Ontario last fall.  Elson had been in failing health recently and even told me he didn’t think he would see next spring.  I have been a part of the Arnold clan since Sept 1980 when my late wife, Elsie & I were married.  Elson and Isabel welcomed me into this wonderful family with open arms and enjoyed teaching a city slicker like me some of the finer points of farming life.  We spent many happy times visiting on the farm when our children, Lindsay & Casey, were young and we continued to enjoy our visits to see them when they retired to an apartment in Kincardine for many years.  I still remember Elson lending Elsie and I the family’s Dodge Caravelle so we could attend Eddie & Kim Cristofoli’s wedding in Ohio one summer.  Lindsay and Casey were both in the wedding party.  The Dodge had a hole in the exhaust pipe which made it very loud to drive.  Elson, being true to the farmer image of being able to fix and repair almost anything, took the Dodge into the shop, where he raised it up on it’s side using the bucket on one of the tractors.  He soon found the hole in the exhaust and using an empty aluminum beer can with a couple of clamps, quickly had the hole repaired and we were on our way.  The Dodge performed flawlessly on our trip and I expect that patch was still in place when he traded the car in many months later.

Elson was the first to admit he didn’t have much of an education by today’s standards but there wasn’t a book on the shelf of his extensive library that he hadn’t read many times over.  His record keeping for the farm and on into later life was impeccable and he often enjoyed taking out a notebook to show me minute details of exactly how much he and Isabel had paid for innumerable items used on the farm, some entries dating back more than 50 years!  I can’t remember the exact date I first visited on the farm on the Seventh, but it wasn’t long after Elsie & I were married and before Lindsay & Casey were even born.  I remember sitting around the family table for my first supper with the family.  There were nine children and spouses in the Arnold family and I was the most recent import.  Now, not all the children were there but there were at least 10 people at the table and Elson & Isabel could tell that I was a little overwhelmed and not really quite sure how dinners proceeded at the Arnold family table.  Isabel told me to grab the closest dish to me and to help myself to as much as I wanted before passing the dish to the next person at the table.  Elson smiled and added, “You won’t get a second crack at it so grab it now!”  I dug right in and kept pace with the flurry of bowls and serving platters as they  went by at lightning speed.  Elson gave me a wink and a wry smile once things slowed down a little….. I knew I was now part of the Arnold family.

We lost my father, David, in June 2001.  We lost Elsie in Aug 2004 and her brother Mel a few years after that.  The Arnold family made it their business to make certain the kids and I knew we were all still very much a part of the Arnold clan.  They have also welcomed Chris and Sarah into their family with open arms, for which we are all extremely blessed and grateful.  Elson……you called it right.  You knew when it was your time and as usual you were right on the money.  It’s been a pleasure knowing you and I know you are looking down on us right now just to make sure we are all ok.   Thanks to you we are all doing just fine.  Sweet dreams………