This week I said goodbye to a very good friend, Arlie Wilson. He was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of cancer called Adenoid cystic cancer a little over six years ago. He continued to work for three years after he was diagnosed with the cancer even though it wasn’t easy. Arlie’s easygoing personality and profound faith allowed him to live a quality life for the last six years despite the cancer and the struggle he had dealing with the drug treatments. It never stopped him from living and enjoying life. He and his wife, Teresa, continued to live their everyday lives with the same commitment and enthusiasm they had before the cancer. The two of them have shown all of us who know them how to live in really tough times.
Arlie was a genuine person with no pretentions or hidden agendas. He was independent and a critical thinker. He was quiet, and when he said something, you usually remembered what he had to say. He loved simple things that brought happiness and contentment to his life and to those around him. He loved God and lived out his faith in a quiet but faithful manner that inspired people.
Arlie had a wonderful sense of humor. Here are a couple examples: Back when his daughter, Carin, was going to college, Teresa would leave five dollars on the kitchen table for her to have some lunch money. One day Carin said to her mother, “I don’t have any more lunch money.” Teresa responded, “Well, I’ve been leaving you five dollars every day.” Carin said, “Well, I haven’t been getting it. Then they both looked at Arlie and he said, “Well, it was just lying there every day.”
There was a certain period when Teresa packed one of those Little Debbie cakes in Arlie’s lunch every day. One day Arlie said, “You don’t have to put that cake in my lunch anymore.” Teresa queried, “Why, Arlie, don’t you like the cake anymore?” Arlie wryly responded, “No, I never did like it much, but the guy who has been eating it has just retired.”
Arlie didn’t have fear. His life philosophy was to do the best you can and go on and don’t sweat the small stuff. He didn’t like debt, and he knew how to handle his money. How rare that philosophy is today. He could figure things out by thinking his way through. It’s called logic. Arlie had a lot of common sense which he put in practice over the years. This proverb describes him: “If you are wise, your wisdom will reward you;” Proverbs 9:12. His philosophy and his faith really came in handy when dealing with a crippling cancer. Though it may have robbed his health, it never robbed him of his joy and hope.
I had the opportunity to sit and talk with Arlie numerous times over the last several months. We talked about the church, about our families, about history, about life, about dying and about heaven. Arlie was unintimidated by death because his steadfast faith in Jesus Christ as his savior gave him a heavenly perspective. He bravely faced death as his faith enabled him to look past his battle with cancer because he had hope beyond death and beyond the grave. Arlie knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that he will live again in his body that had been devastated by cancer. You see, Arlie believed, like Job, in the resurrection of the dead.
25 “I know that my Redeemer lives,
and that in the end he will stand upon the earth.
26 And after my skin has been destroyed,
yet in my flesh I will see God;”