This post will be one of the hardest things I’ve had to do. Not because it’s laborious, tedious or troubling, but because its a lot of remembering and missing a man who was a huge influence in my life. I entered the Ward family with little to no knowledge of farming. Sure, I grew up in a situation where we were living with the land and even maintaining a smallhold of animals, but never to the present extent. When you marry into a family farm you marry into a life that involves working with different personalities and how you negotiate those relationships can make or break it. I was the fortunate one to be able to spend a large part of my life with my father in law, Nelson Thomas Ward.
Nelson was an influence like no other. He was a kind man who always put his animals and others before himself. Farm Boy remembers his father clearly telling him”son, you should always put the animals before yourself and feed them before you eat” . His kindness and gentleness was evident in how he treated his livestock. His love of horses are spread throughout our house in the photographs. He had a certain sensitivity to knowing his horses. He was patient when he needed to be and stern when necessary. Either way, he did this with a calm, quiet strength. Nelson was no one but Nelson. He was the sort of person that put on no airs. He was down to earth and treated everyone he met with respect. His ability to listen, observe and converse demonstrated his gentle nature. He lived life by the simplicity of being good to others. Nelson taught many things, I believe unknowingly, to those around him.
I think my favourite “Nelson” word is Jimmyrigged. I can’t think of that word without seeing his face. The farm is full of “Jimmyrigging” from his farming days. I see it in the fences where he used bits of wire or baler twine to repair it. I see it in the cracks in the barn walls that he stuffed with rolls of twine from the round bales. I see it in the way he never threw anything out but seemed to find a use for it down the road. I realize this is probably very closely connected with the fact that he grew up quite poor.
As a child, he moved frequently and attended 8 schools in 9 years . He worked in logging camps at a young age and had many different vocations including Pilot, Carpet Installer, Salesman for Coach Buses and Water Silos. His true love was his family, farm and horses.
Nelson led his life with a unique sense of humour. His wit and charm are still remembered by many. He loved poetry which included mostly limericks that one can’t repeat. He was a wonderful storyteller who would enthrall his grandchildren. His story frequently involved himself and how famous he was. My childrens favourites were when he was an Olympic skater and skier. He claims he was named Blades for his excellent skating skills and Slats as a World renowned Skier( neither of which happened). This story never grew old and always brought laughter.
My memories of him were nothing short of positive. He always had encouraging words and looked at the positive!
Nelson was my teacher. He taught me a kindness and patience. He taught me not to judge and that listening and observing goes a long way. He showed me a love of living a life on the farm. His selfless giving showed me the rewards it can bring. Most of all Nelson Thomas Ward taught me to love just a little differently! What more is needed in this world than that!
I miss you every day and hope to carry a fraction of your kind and generous spirit in my lifetime.
Nelson Thomas Ward Born August 31, 1935 Died August 26, 2019