Getting an envelope from the Grand Lodge several times a year usually means I'm being called upon to donate or I need to complete some paperwork on behalf of my lodge or the district. Once a year however, it's a membership report.
We get asked to look back at the year and verify and report how many men joined, left, and died. Thinking about death is one of the things we do as Freemasons. We contemplate it, and we watch our brothers travel into that undiscovered country. I lost my first one when I was a fresh Master Mason. The brother who was old, full of smiles and stories. He got sick, he went into the hospital and I waited to go see him. I did go see him and we talked a bit before he became tired and went to sleep. I walked out and drove home. Bro. Curtis passed the next day in his hospital bed.
At his funeral, another mentor of the lodge, WB Behling came to me and said, "You know who I feel sorry for? It's not for the brothers that lost him, it's for the ones who will never know him." Seven years later I found myself outside a little church in the middle of Wisconsin under the bluest sky and overlooking the greenest rolling hills filled with intricate and beautiful headstones. The breeze was something to remember that day. WB. Behling was now the one to journey onward.
Not a year later, we all said goodbye to another WB of our lodge. He passed peacefully surrounded by family. These days come all to frequently it seems. I know we all feel a measure of unequivocal loss when we lose a brother we admired, loved and looked up to. WB Ed was an extraordinary man who's dedication to not only the lodge but to his fellow brothers was an object of aspiration, a lofty goal many of us could never reach. "Bob, you know, if there is ANYTHING I can ever do for ya, you let me know. If the lodge needs something, let me know. I am here for you guys." He said it every damn meeting.
One of the lodge mentors told me recently, "Get used to this. We're getting old." He smirked. I understood, and pushed the thought out of my mind. I miss these guys. I know you all have brothers you miss too. It's a new year, and to touch on WB Richards post from Monday, it's hard to not think about who isn't here with us. Perhaps they are though, somehow.