I visited you today. Seeing you lying there it appeared like you were sleeping, like so many times I visited your house and you had fell asleep on the couch to the television show you were watching. The white lambskin apron around your waist and the sprig of acacia in your hand jolted me back to reality.
While I stood there looking at you I realized u my life would be different now. No more would I walk into the lodge room and see your smiling face and feel the clasp of your hand in mine. No more would I hear you say “Good evening Brother”, with a cheerfulness that made even the most boring Masonic meeting seem worthwhile.
Sitting with you on my back porch on a beautiful summer evening. Puffing cigars and watching the puffs of smoke dancing with the lightening bugs. Discussing the esoteric symbolism of a Masonic degree to the sounds of crickets and the tinkling of the ice cubes as it mixes with the scotch in our glasses. These things would be no more. I keep thinking you now know the answers to all those mysterious questions we posed. In a way I envy you, that the hoodwink of the world has been removed from your eyes.
You were my rock when I was an officer of the lodge. Your advice and constant encouragement not only kept me from quitting when times got difficult but you gave me the confidence to carry on. I couldn’t have done it without your guidance and encouragement.
I imagine there will be several times a day I'll pick up my phone to call you to arrange for a lunch date and run lines for an upcoming degree. I’m sure every time I realize that you won’t be answering, I'll begin to grieve your loss all over again, slowly putting my phone down.
For so many years you have been there for me. From the night I was raised to the Sublime degree, to being one of my groomsmen on my wedding day. I remember the smile on your face as I handed you a cigar in the waiting room of the hospital the night my kids were born. You were not just my Masonic brother you were part of my family.
You weren't just there for me in the good times. You held me as tears fell down my cheeks when my parents passed away. You seemed to know just the right thing to say to comfort me. I also remember the time when you showed up on my doorstep with groceries and Christmas presents when times were tough. You were always there, good times and bad. No matter how I tried you wouldn’t let me pay you back. “That’s what Brothers are for!”, you would say. “If you want to pay me back, extend a charitable hand to another Brother in need someday.” I never forgot that and you taught me a great lesson.
You have been a part of me and my family for most of my adult life. You have taught me so much. Not just how to be a good Mason, but how to be a good husband, father and most of all, to be a good man. I realize I never truly got to thank you for all the good you have done for me and all you have taught me.
I realize now as we slowly walk to that final spot, you have been preparing me for this day since I became an Entered Apprentice.
Like the days of the operative Masons, when I became an Entered Apprentice, I also became your apprentice and you became my mentor. You didn’t teach me how to cut stone or work in the quarry with a builders tools, but you taught me about life, using the working tools of a Master Mason .
You have been preparing me for the day you could no longer walk with me, and now now I must make that first upright step on my own without you. I know now is time for the student to assume the role of the teacher.
Your memory will always live in my heart and to continue your memory. I will find a poor, blind candidate desiring to be brought from darkness to light and use the tools you placed in my hands and help him form his ashlar into a living stone, which I pray will keep your memory alive in all Masons. It’s the circle of life and learning.