“He needs to rest, so please make sure your visit is brief,” the nurse told the 50 Year member as he and Pudge were about to enter the hospital room. “Yes ma’am, we won’t stay long.” The nurse stopped and hesitated for a moment:“You are family members of his, aren’t you?” The old man smiled. “Yes ma’am, he is my brother.” She smiled, “I’m so glad. The poor man has been in here so long and has never had a visitor. You can see the loneliness in his eyes.”
The 50 Year member peeked into the sterile hospital room. He could see Martin Baker lying quietly in a hospital bed. The only sounds that broke the silence in the man's darkened room were that of the machines providing the medicines keeping him alive, beeping as the life-giving drugs coursed through his veins.
Martin was a long-time member of the 50 year member's lodge. The old man felt like he knew Martin his entire life. Which, for the most part was correct. Martin and the old man’s father served together in the same unit during World War II and after the war they continued their friendship for decades.
The two men and their wives socialized together, some nights playing bridge at each other’s houses. And both family’s kids spent summers at each others homes playing baseball and other games. Some of the 50 years members earliest and favorite childhood memories are spending time at the lodge building with Martin and his dad while they served as officers. The fondest memory of Martin was when he served as the Senior Deacon conducting him through his Master Mason degree while the old man’s dad sat in the east and obligated him.
The shuffling of feet into the quiet hospital room seem to wake Martin up. A smile came across his face as his eyes tried to focus in the darkened room: “John, Is that you?” “It sure is Marty. I heard you were in here, I wanted to make sure you were okay and see if you needed anything.” Martin looked into the 50 year member's eyes and said with a feeble smile. “I’m doing okay. They are taking good care of me, considering everything that is wrong with me.” He looked over and saw Pudge standing near the foot of his hospital bed. "Who is this young man? Is this one of your sons?”
The 50-year member chuckled “Nope, but he might as well be. Marty this is Jeremy Pugslie. Most people just call him Pudge. He belongs to the lodge." Despite the many IV tubes, Marty raised his right arm and gave Pudge a certain grip. In a quiet voice Marty said, “Good to know you Brother. I’m sorry I don’t get down to the lodge much like I used to. I don’t get to meet many of the newer members.”
“I totally understand,” Pudge said. “I’ve heard a lot about you from John.” Martin laughed through a cough, “I bet you have. I could tell you a lot about him, too. I remember once, a long time ago when he was still in short britches, he carved the name of a girl he liked on the wall of the lodge’s preparation room with a pen knife when he was supposed to be cleaning it. His father tanned his hide so hard…” The 50 year member stopped Marty’s story, “Careful Marty, I am trying to run for sainthood and I can’t have these young ones know I am not perfect.” The 50 year member said with a laugh in his voice. Marty smiled and said, “Well son, you will never get elected as long as I am still on this earth. I know all your secrets. Lucky for you the doctor said I won’t be around here much longer.” Martin said quietly.
The 50 year member took the old man's hand and grasped it, trying to choke the tears away, “Oh Marty don’t believe those doctors. You are I both know they don’t know as much as they think they do.” Martin grasped Johns hand back. “I’m afraid this time they might be right. I can see the writing on the wall as clearly as I can see that girl's name you carved on the wall all those years ago.”
Martin continued, “Don’t feel sorry for me. I’ve lived a good life. But sadly, most of the folks I have known all my life have went before me. I can tell because my daughter told me she called the lodge to let the brothers know I was in here and I wasn’t doing well. When I was in active in lodge we used to make it a priority to visit members or their wives in the hospital and make sure they didn’t have any needs. I never heard from anybody. I guess I have gotten so old I have been forgotten just another old dinosaur. I’m just an old photo on the Past Masters wall that no one ever looks at anymore. I know all these men are busy at their jobs, raising kids and trying to keep their wives happy,” Martin said with a slight smile on his face. “We had all of that and more in our day. But when we got a call from the lodge that a Brother was sick or his family was in a desperate situation, we all came running. I guess they are all busy with those charity projects the lodge does now that I read about in the paper.”
“I am just so glad you two came here to see me. I can’t say thank you to you both enough." A tear began to run down Martin’s cheek as his voice began to falter.
“You know I am scared but I am also happy because I will finally be able to stand in the Northeast corner of the Celestial lodge above and hear the Master say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” And I will finally get to sit in lodge with your dad again and all those old guys I have think about every day. But John, I need you to promise me something. Since I had all daughters they don’t understand Masonry. When my time comes to climb those winding stairs will you please make sure I get a Masonic funeral? I will make sure to tell my daughter to get my apron to you.”
The 50 year member sitting at the edge of Martin’s bed. Tears running down his cheeks, his hands shaking said to Martin, “Of course I will Brother. I will personally conduct the service, if I can keep from crying, I am also going to promise you something else. I promise to make sure that you won’t be just another old photo on the wall and I will make sure no other member of this lodge ever feels like they just an old photo either.”
WB Bill Hosler was made a Master Mason in 2002 in Three Rivers Lodge #733 in Indiana. He served as Worshipful Master in 2007 and became a member of the internet committee for Indiana's Grand Lodge. Bill is currently a member of Roff Lodge No. 169 in Roff Oklahoma and Lebanon Lodge No. 837 in Frisco,Texas. Bill is also a member of the Valley of Fort Wayne Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite in Indiana. A typical active Freemason, Bill also served as the High Priest of Fort Wayne's Chapter of the York Rite No. 19 and was commander of of the Fort Wayne Commandery No. 4 of the Knight Templar. During all this he also served as the webmaster and magazine editor for the Mizpah Shrine in Fort Wayne Indiana.