Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness: thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress; have mercy upon me, and hear my prayer. Psalm 4:1

In Chapter Fifteen of Cloud by Day/Fire by Night, titled The Tribute I pay respect to parents and family in the form of prose based upon Percy Bysshe Shelley and his Ozymandias. Every one of us who has had the privilege of being raised in a “whole” family as opposed to a single-parent upbringing, can attest to the fact of attributes of living being instilled into everyday life that schools cannot teach. Character, discipline, good manners, courtesy, respect for property, respect for elders, don’t speak unless spoken to, a willing attitude, a caring nature. Mothers and fathers have their differences alright, but it’s how they handle them that settles in the young developing mind. “The Tribute” is suitably named, as it is all too easy these days to become complacent and take things for granted, but if ever there was a time when the world needed strong Godly men and women to raise strong Godly families it is today, where moral equivalency and relativism is ripping society apart. God will not stay his hand forever and it is time for a repentant people to put God first and foremost in their lives – beginning in the home. Without quoting the whole Book of Ecclesiastes, here are some thoughts from Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived:

One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever. The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose .. To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted .. I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before him .. Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour .. And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken .. Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them .. Vanity of vanities, saith the preacher; all is vanity .. Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.

In other words, a compilation of the very same tenets of family living and upbringing that both Jack and his bride, my aunt Florence (Florrie) instilled into their own four children, which has now been passed on to their grandchildren and great grandchildren. The very fact of how many showed up to attend his funeral service spoke volumes of just what an influence Jack had on the lives of many others.

Howe Bridge Crematorium and Chapel..

Howe Bridge Crematorium and Chapel..

And thus we come to the final farewell of Uncle Jack, which took place Friday afternoon in the beautiful countryside of the local Howe Bridge Crematorium Chapel, where over 100 of his family and friends came to pay their last respects. According to Webster’s dictionary, the word Eternal is defined as: “having infinite duration: everlasting: of or relating to eternity: characterized by abiding fellowship with God: continued without intermission: perpetual: seemingly endless: timeless: Ages: the state after death: infinite time: immortality: a seemingly endless or immeasurable time: something eternal: GOD.” And as the Apostle John explains it: “That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” ~ John 3:15-16

And as we sang in the last verse of the chosen hymn: O let me see thy footmarks, and in them plant mine own; my hope to follow duly is in thy strength alone. O guide me, call me, draw me, uphold me to the end; and then in heaven receive me, my Saviour and my Friend.”

The Tribute, as I delivered it before the assembly of family and friends…

John “Jack” Harrison born in 1925 – Passed into Eternity Jan 22 2016

Following his national service in the Air Force, Jack began his working career at the Royal Ordinance factory in Wigan, after which he was transferred to the Chorley facility. Try as we might, he never ever revealed to us what his responsibilities were at Royal Ordinance, nor why he was so important to them, because he had signed “the official secrets act” and thereby wasn’t at liberty to disclose any information. Everyone in the place knew however, who to turn to for clock and watch repairs, earning him the nickname at work, “Jack the Clock!”

He met Florence along the way, and they eventually married in 1951 setting up home in Byrom Street, Poolstock where Jackie and then Janice came along.

Uncle Jack, Cousin Reg, Uncle Ralph, Diane & Me wedding day morning 1951

Uncle Jack, Cousin Reg, Uncle Ralph, Diane & Me wedding day morning 1951

Coming up to visit Aunt Peggy in Westhoughton on the bus one day in 1957, Florence saw Allenby Grove being built, and when she got back home persuaded Jack to buy the last house for sale. During the next few years two more children came along, in the form of Jillian and Stuart.

Over the years Jack developed a love for all things sporting, especially cricket, and his early days were spent watching and supporting Poolstock and Blackrod Cricket Clubs. Blackrod particularly and the friends he made there, played a huge part in Jack’s life for many many years, and it was only relatively recently that he ended his Saturday morning visits to see his Blackrod friends.

The early 1980s were a very proud moment-in-time for Jack when he began to watch 16-year-old Stuart play for Westhoughton’s First Team, and on one occasion he was very grateful to have a young Greg and Glyn to carefully guide him and his bike back home after one of many great nights he had at The Tyldesleys following the games. Apparently on this particular occasion, he serenaded the both of them all the way home. Later he would go on to see Greg, Glyn, and Ben play for the same Westhoughton team, producing yet more proud times for Grandfather Jack.

In keeping with the sports theme, Jack had a propensity to plan family holidays to Bognor Regis and the home of his sister with the Glorious Goodwood Racing Week – Mind you, it was always an interesting journey and the family never covered the same route twice, it was just that Jack was generally lost once he got outside of Wigan, but Janice was always quick on the uptake however, and became the official map reader and route organizer, albeit she was barely 10 years old at the time. Nevertheless, Janice always seemed to get everyone there!

Chapel at Howe Bridge...

Chapel at Howe Bridge…

Future holidays for Jack developed into trips to Scotland with Stuart, his mate Stan, Stan’s dog, clothes, food, and fishing gear for a 2-week stay in a caravan, and all in a Reliant Robin! Goodness knows how Florence and Jillian kept straight faces as they waved them all off packed in like sardines in that tight little 3-wheeler!

Following his retirement Jack and Florence spent lots of time together with day trips, lunches, visits to family and other attractions as they took their fancy, but when Florence became too ill to venture out too far, Jack devoted most of his time to caring for her and making her as comfortable as he could until, following her long illness, she passed away in 2004. It was during this period, when Jack had the opportunity to get out on his own for a break, that one of his friends introduced him to the Reform Club where he developed a whole new social network for himself.

At the ripe old age of 80 Jack got his first passport and went on a lads trip to Tenerife, the visit of which we’re informed, was his first (and only) foray into tobacco smuggling! On reaching his 90th birthday in December, Jack enjoyed a family party at Jackie’s house where everyone gathered to celebrate a great innings – and as usual, he was the last to leave!

In closing, Jack was so very proud of his family .. Jackie, Janice, Jillian, and Stuart, all settled and happy in their lives … His grandsons Greg, Glyn, Ross, and Ben, and his great-grandchildren Amy, Matthew and Ada … He loved the visits of Greg and Glyn and their families, and they never came North without a stop-off to see him .. He was excited to hear all about Ross applying to universities and him hoping to become a doctor … He enjoyed talking about football, cricket, in fact any sport with Ben, and the pair of them comparing their bets was the inevitable result of most of their chats …

Howe Bridge memorial garden...

Howe Bridge memorial garden…

So there you have it ladies and gentlemen, from the family themselves … The story of a life well-lived, well-rounded, and well remembered. They would like to thank you for coming along today to say “tara” to Jack and invite you all to join them at the Reform Club immediately following the service to help celebrate the life of a true gentleman.

Thank you all very much.

For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore. Psalm 16:10-11

Face of Jesus by Richard Hook

Soli Deo Gloria!