We spend our early years looking up to our father. Dad is our symbol of strength and wisdom. He could throw us in the air for hours; it took him seconds to fix our broken toys. We'd struggle to walk in his shoes with our tiny feet! In those early years, we would try to be like the most important man in our life. For most young men, there are also those teenage years where we swear, "I will never be like him." But we realize after reaching adulthood that as much as we tried to be different, we couldn't escape certain physical qualities. And when you reach that point in life where you start a relationship with your inner-self, you realize there are inherent traits you share with your father that could only have been passed along from birth.
As we prepare to make phone calls to the most important men in our lives this weekend or cherish breakfast and Father's Day gifts from our family, I can't help and think, my Brothers, of that special bond that so few of us share. Fathers and their sons who are held to a deeper tie through Freemasonry. We know that our obligations extend beyond a similar passion for the same sports team or attending the same college/university. How extraordinary a Masonic connection must be; to share a bond deep in history, knowledge, and tradition.
"You know, my dad and grandfather were from the old school of Freemasonry, if you weren't a Mason, they wouldn't talk with you about it," shared Bro. Matthew McIntosh, Morgantown Union Lodge #4 of the Grand Lodge of West Virginia. "I remember when I was younger, asking about his Masonic ring at one point. 'What's that ring mean?' My father told me, 'well, if you're a good man, maybe one day you will find out.' I grew up in Grafton (West Virginia). My brother and I were pretty naive growing up; we saw the letter 'G' and thought you had to be from Grafton to wear that ring!"
I enjoyed a special conversation with Bro. McIntosh on the unique link between family men who are also Brother Masons. I believe that every father hopes that someday, he will share our path to Freemasonry. As the father of a thirteen-year-old son, I think about this the more time I spent with my son. My son, Mikey, asks me the same questions I posed to my dad. As adolescents, we investigate to learn what our father's life was like when he was our age. I wanted to know about The Beatles, where my dad was when Kennedy was shot and how he felt during the Vietnam War. My son wants to know if Michael Jordan was really the greatest basketball player of all time (he was), how did I watch movies before Netflix (it was called a VCR), and giggles when I talk about having a full head of hair.
Not once has he asked about Freemasonry, my Lodge, or anything about being a Mason. Sure, he's spent time with Brothers from my Lodge, he's even attended an officer installation. That is when he asked why I wore a "skirt" (his words, not mine) and was fascinated with "the guy who gets to hold the sword." But there were no questions on what I do as a Mason or any interest in the subject. I find it difficult to talk with my adult friends about Masonry. It is close to impossible to bring up the topic with my son. As the first of my family to become a Master Mason, I can only hope that my son would pursue my course in searching for Masonic light. I found encouragement from Bro. McIntosh.
"I came into Masonry later in life, I thought you had to be invited to be a Masonry, I didn't know you had to ask," said Bro. McIntosh. Matt shared with me the history of his grandfather (Arnold) and his grandfather's brother going through the degree work together in 1951, receiving their 50-year pins in 2001. "That was a big deal, my uncle came to visit for that," he added. His grandfather was also a Scottish Rite Mason. Matt's father (David) would eventually follow in his father's footsteps. Matt's brother also joined the Craft before Matt sought a petition. Unfortunately, Matt's grandfather laid down his Working Tools before Matt was raised. "I wish Pap-pa could be here for this," he recalls telling his father before his 3rd degree. "Oh, he'll be there," his father replied. Matt thought that meant in spirit. "It gets me emotional just thinking about this. After I was raised, my dad presented me with my grandfather's ring. There wasn't a dry eye in the Lodge."
That ring is a family heirloom that Bro. McIntosh hopes to pass along to his seven-year-old grandson. "He's already interested; the spark is there," Matt confirmed. His grandson has asked about Matt dressing up for lodge meetings, has tried on his Shriner cap, and loves his Knights Templar regalia. "Especially the sword, but I won't let him hold it yet."
Our conversation drifted back into the role that Masons play in the lives of those around us. It's not uncommon to hear from candidates interested in petitioning a lodge that a Mason made a profound impression in their life at a young age. Bro. McIntosh summed up this connection beautifully. "I was always surrounded by Masons, and I didn't know it. They helped influence who I am. I think being raised by Masons, you're instilled with those values that you pass along. You want your son to be a better man. You are bringing him up to be a Mason, whether he knows it or not."