Freddie Flint: ‘A Life Sown Is Life Reaped’
When describing Freddie Flint, many would agree that he is the epitome of stability within the Okmulgee community.
He has served in so many ways, be it through his janitorial services, or even his art.
One thing is a constant – Freddie remains the same – kind.
Flint is a man of many gifts and known by many names: Piano Man, dad, brother, friend or Mr. Flint (that’s how I refer to him as well).
I had the chance to sit down with him and get his thoughts about being nominated as an Unsung Hero. He credits his character to the upbringing of his father.
“My dad – I thought my dad was the hardest dad,” he said. “Because he kept me in the gardens and went to school, went home and go to church, go back home. I never got a chance to rip and run the streets or get in trouble. Never did drugs, never smoked, never did alcohol. And my daddy was a bootlegger is what was so ironic … never been put in jail. Never seen the inside of a jail. No, no detention centers or nothing. Well, I thought I was a square.”
Make no mistake, Flint has experienced a lot in his life and learned lessons along the way. These lessons are what he has tried to instill in his own children. Because there is no playbook on raising kids, Flint says he had to critique himself and develop better ways than what he may have been taught.
“There was this one lady…she saw me and Frederick talking, she said, ‘Are y’all brothers?’ I said, ‘no, this is my son.’ She said ‘what? That is shocking. Usually,’ she said, ‘you don’t see father and son getting along like that.’ And Frederick said, ‘Me and dad do this all the time. We talk about cars, we talk about politics.’
“I didn’t talk to him like he was a subordinate,” Flint said. “I talked to him like he was my friend. And this woman was in awe that I wouldn’t say ‘shut-up boy,’ you know, how they do. Because … he was getting into manhood and I had to start treating him like that, respecting the boundaries and stuff. And I would talk to him and I never dissed him in public. That’s embarrassing. It kills the character when you do that. If you’re gonna discipline, get home and talk to him.”
Flint is known for his janitorial and cleaning services he provided around town. One of his longest standing customers of 48 years was Citizen National Bank, now Mabrey Bank, to which he retired in July 2022.
“I started in 1974,” he said. “I walked in that bank and I was afraid. Everything looked so pristine. Benny Moore was the janitor. He was a real perfectionist. I said there’s no way I’m going to live up to what this man has done. The floors were waxed and shining, that’s back when they waxed. They don’t do that anymore.”
Flint was celebrated for his work and dedication with words of encouragement and of course, cake. Expressions of gratitude such as ‘I really have enjoyed you working at the bank … I have learned a lot from you. You’re always putting others before yourself.’
Flint says he learned early on ‘you reap what you sow.’
He celebrated his 71st birthday in March. Now almost one year into his retirement and certifiably a man of leisure, he recently shared his opportunity to take advantage of going on a cruise experiencing Belize and jungles, rope bridges and islands and of course Madagascar cockroaches, or at least insects that looked like them. The sheer size of the ships was another wonder.
“They (ships) were taller than some of the buildings in Galveston – three, four and five-story buildings,” he said. “I was like a kid in a candy store. I had never been and we tasted wine … A guy is explaining the Mayan ruins. To see the Mayan ruins! One was called a Mayan temple for the sun. The other one was called a temple for the moon … The temple for the sun is bigger than the moon and they do all the planting, the garden stuff by the Mayan ruins.”
One of the things Flint shared when first asked about his nomination, was the fact he was pleased.
“I was impressed. I was pleased. It was like all your hard work and you think no one’s watching or you think no one cares, you’re never too old because your time will come. And now I feel like my time has come for me to do what I want to do.”
Flint was able to spend five days in Mexico seeing things he never thought he would see before. “I’ve been to five different countries and on a cruise ship and all the food on the ship paid for, all the fitness. They even had a casino on the ship, a place where you can go see plays three times bigger than the Orpheum Theatre on the ship. They had two swimming pool decks. I couldn’t believe it. I said I can’t believe this is real. I’m on a cruise.”
Flint is known for his service to others and his ability to remain consistently constant.
I asked him to share a portion of his wisdom and encouragement that’s been 70 years in the making.
He left us with this, “All what I dreamed about seemed like it just came rushing in like a flood because they said give and it shall be given unto you. Good measure. Pressed together. Shaken together, running over shall men give into your bosom … I’m always thinking, don’t worry, don’t sweat the small stuff. For in due time, you shall reap. They say ‘don’t be weary in well doing because I’m always going around trying to make people smile.
“Don’t allow life itself to dictate your life. Life itself has a plan that really doesn’t coincide with your life plan. Because sometimes people want to put you in this corral or cookie cutter…you live, you go to work, you go to church, you go home, and that’s it. But there’s more to life than just being a robot … don’t ever underestimate God’s power. Because he has something in store for you. If you just hold on. Like the song says, ‘Hold on to his hand.’” Some people sing songs just to sing, but a song is just a slower way of telling the truth, he admits.
Freddie Flint – for a life well sown, we pray you continue in a life well lived.