By Florence “Flo” Aldridge
About the author: Florence “Flo” Aldridge resides at Church Street Personal Care Home in Ecru, following a slight stroke. She continues to use her love of music as a substitute organist primarily at First United Methodist Church in Pontotoc. Her essay is about her father, George Frederick Clarke.
by Florence Ann Clarke Aldridge
Ecclesiastes 3: “… To everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under the heaven. A time to be born and a time to die …”
My cousin, the Rev. Dr. Larry Rankin, a United Methodist minister, once said “the thing Uncle George knew the most about was time …”
My father was apprenticed to a jeweler/watchmaker in Toronto, Canada, at the age of 12 because he needed to help support his family. After suffering from multiple skin infections from the cold climate of Canada, he moved to Miami, Fla., where he met my mother at White Temple Methodist Church.
As they returned from their short honeymoon, ‘lo and behold’ his draft notice was found in their mailbox. He was soon sent to Agra, India, where he spent all of his Army days. He was given the choice of serving for his country or his wife’s, and he became a United States citizen during his service to Mama’s country.
Mother told me stories about my dad, and how one day he would come home and live with us. You see, I had never seen him except when he came home on a short trip from overseas to “christen the baby.” So, to keep his face prominent in my mind, Mother gave me an 8 x 10 picture of Daddy to hug, which I did constantly.
Once home, Daddy threw down his knapsack on the kitchen floor, grabbed Mother and me, and declared never to wear the color brown again. We were truly a family then.
Daddy was a quiet man, but quite a disciplinarian who loved children. He taught me and later my brother Arthur the qualities that count by the way he lived – by example: politeness, honesty, humbleness, humor, love of God and family, caring for others, and saving for a rainy day.
Even ‘tho his education (book learning) was limited, he knew the importance of education, and went to night school, learning French, psychology and business. Daddy had a keen ability of common sense and never ‘met a stranger’. He cared deeply for all who crossed his path in life.
He felt his skill, learned years ago, was a ministry, and made sure even his extended family’s and pastors’ watches were kept in good working order.
His theme song of life could be stated like this: “If you are good, you don’t have to tell anyone.” I never once heard him brag on himself. Daddy was a devout United Methodist, who believed in Jesus as his personal Savior.