Arnie was born to an onion farmer and his wife during the great Depression. Times were hard and money was scarce, but they had things that money couldn’t buy—faith in God and commitment to one another. After the Depression, the onset of World War II brought on hardship again as many things had to be rationed, but they still had God, the farm, and each another. After the war, Arnie’s dad needed his help on the farm. He didn’t like school anyway and dropped out to give his dad a hand.
Time went by and Arnie met Marion, a pretty young lady from a town up the road. Friendship bloomed, love blossomed, and before they knew it, they were married. Then Korean War broke out, and he was drafted. After his hitch in the Army, he went home, got a job, and it wasn’t long before their three boys were born. What a crew!
Both worked hard everyday, he on the job, and she in the home. To him the sweat of a man’s brow was a badge of honor and taking care of a family a man’s duty. They also saw to it that Christ was the center of their lives. They read the Bible every night, were faithful to Sunday School, worship services, and every other church activity one could imagine.
Family time was also important, whether it was a picnic in the park, helping out with Cub Scouts, or catching for one of the boys who loved baseball as much as his Bible. Life was good, but far from idyllic. They had their bumps and bruises in life like everyone else. But the family also had some special struggles. For most of her life,
struggled with many physical and mental problems. While no one knows the exact number for sure, she may have been hospitalized as many as fifty times for a bi-polar mental disorder known today as manic-depressive. Marion
Through no fault of his own, Arnie had to play the role of both father and mother, working hard every day, looking after the kids at night, and wondering if his wife would ever get well. On at least two occasions, things got so hard that the kids had to live with relatives for a time. Once she was also hospitalized for ten straight months in a state mental hospital an hour’s drive from home. Since Sunday was the only day the family could see her, Arnie packed a sack lunch and after church, they all went to the hospital, stopping at a park along the road to eat. Doing this week after week was hard, but today they cherish the memories of the time together.
One day after reaching adulthood, one of the kids asked him why he stuck it out with her all these years. After all, lots of other men would have left long ago. Without pausing to think, he replied that on their wedding day he had promised her “to love and to cherish, for better or for worse, in sickness and in health” until only death parted them. If he ever had a complaint, his kids don’t remember it. He wasn’t perfect, but he was faithful. And with prayer, proper medical treatment, and love,
eventually got better. Marion
More years went by and the kids left home, two for the Navy and the other got married. But the family bonds were tightly woven, graced by faith in God, steeled by love for one another, and tempered by shared hardships. Like the old telephone commercial, they discovered that letters and long distance were the next best things to being there.
More time passed and one day
went to be with the Lord. For forty-seven and a half years, through all the thrills and spills of life, they were faithful to God, one another, and their kids. Arnie and the boys are still as close as ever. When Arnie remarried a year and a half later, he made the same commitment to his second wife, Joyce. One doesn’t need to think too long about what Arnie’s legacy is to his children and grandchildren: a solid Christian faith, a wonderful family heritage, a great work ethic, and an unforgettable example that real men keep their promises. Marion
How do I know these things? Arnie is my dad.—Dave Johnson