I was recently talking to a brother over the phone who was looking to pay his dues. He informed me he had gotten behind because he traveled frequently and usually pays up to three years in advance, something we secretaries are just fine with. This time however, he was behind because he had just had heart bypass surgery. I'll call this brother, "Jack".
He told me everything was great, and that his recovery was coming along well. Obviously, I was thrilled to hear this. But that's when this brother told me a story about his mentor, his mentor who he almost imitated.
It was 2010, a third degree. This brother was about to receive the culmination of craft masonry. It was an exciting night. I remember it, as I was Jr. Deacon at the time. Well, this fella didn't know that his dad came into town to be the Chaplain. I can tell you he got a smile on his face as big as I had ever seen, when he heard the Chaplain start to do his thing in the start of the degree. "I remember smiling and thinking...that's my dad!", Jack told me.
After the first section was over, we were all in the dining room having a good laugh and grabbing a drink before the night continued. We were about half way through the 2nd section, when our candidate Jack heard something most candidates never hear...One of our members who had a part in the degree collapsed right next to him.
Needless to say, the candidate thought it was all part of the degree experience. But as we all know, it wasn't. It turned out the brother who collapsed had a heart issue and he fell right there in the middle of a degree. I know you're all reading this thinking, "what happened?" And I am happy to report the brother got up and sat on the sidelines the rest of the night. Jack had no idea what had happened and the rest of his degree went off smoothly.
A few weeks later Jack had to get back on the road, as was his profession. He had a stay with us for about 3 months, in which time he progressed through the degrees. His mentor was the man that fell. Sadly, we lost that mentor in 2011. Jack didn't know and, in fact, he found out from me while on that phone call. He said he remembers fondly those three spring months in early 2010, and tells the story in his travels about the time his mentor took a spill and how he thought it was all part of the gig.
He reminisced a bit more on the phone reflecting on the bypass surgery he had just come out of and now, finding comedy in it. For a moment he gave pause, then said to tell the brothers he thinks about us all the time and even though the things that happen to us in the moment can be serious, we survive, we push on and all deal with them in our own ways, most of us look back and have a laugh, a chuckle and, remember.
Bro. Robert Johnson, PM is the Managing Editor of the Midnight Freemasons blog. He is a Freemason out of the First North-East District of Illinois. He is the Secretary of Waukegan Lodge No. 78 and Education officer for the 1st N.E. District of Illinois as well as a past member on the Grand Lodge Education Committee. He is also a member of the York Rite bodies, AMD, The Illinois Lodge of Research and a member of the Scottish Rite Valley of Chicago as well as a charter member of the Society of King Solomon, a charity organization run by the Grand Lodge of Illinois. Brother Johnson currently produces and hosts weekly Podcasts (internet radio programs) Whence Came You? & Masonic Radio Theatrewhich focus on topics relating to Freemasonry. In addition, he produces video shorts focusing on driving interest in the Fraternity and writes original Masonic papers from time to time. He is also a co-host of The Masonic Roundtable, a Masonic talk show. He is a husband and father of four. He works full time in the executive medical industry and is also a photographer on the side as well as an avid home brewer. He is currently working on a book of Masonic essays.