I decided I must go, right then and there. I put aside the concerns of my usual vocation, after asking myself, "What am I waiting for? There's only a three-hour drive between me and a dying Brother."
Earlier that afternoon, the Worshipful Master had gotten the call. The daughter of an infirmed member wanted him to be among Lodge Brothers in his final hours. The staff of the Masonic Care Community in Utica, New York, said he may not last the night. She lived on the other side of the country and had just gotten the news, unable to make immediate arrangements to travel.
I was hesitant as Senior Warden to take it upon myself, wondering if a closer Brother who actually knew him personally should go. He had not been to Lodge since before I was a Mason and so I know I had never met him. Speaking with both daughter and Master, there didn't seem to be anyone who could go and at some point, I just snapped. The clock was ticking. What was I waiting for?
Two hours on the Thruway, one to go, and I got the call. He had passed. When I got there, the staff respectfully had put his Masonic cap on his head, a Past Master's Apron gently placed across his waist. There is no telling if his presence was still there; I gripped his hand in a way only a Mason could know anyway. It was strange spending a few moments with a Brother I had never met, and would still not meet until my own attendance of the Celestial Lodge. But he was my Brother nonetheless.
I talked with his daughter over the car's phone speaker on the way home. Even a lone Brother making the trip, and being too late, was deeply meaningful to her. And then she repaid me by giving me the greatest testimony about Freemasonry I ever heard.
It wasn't that my Brother didn't have other family that might have made the trip, but that early in life he had alienated his family and friends. Plainly, she explained he was a horrible husband and father. His family distanced themselves from him.
And then he became a Mason. Over a few short years, she realized he was a changed man — a better man. She was the only one in her family willing to see a difference. And that difference was profound. He did not die without family that loved him, after all. And he had been assured a Brother was on their way, perhaps the last words he had heard.
I have seen a number of Brothers grow, in things like confidence, gentility, and general amicability. Looking back, have other Brothers seen such changes in me? Am I a better husband, father, friend? I realized that day the best testimony of one's value from Freemasonry may not be their own, but from those they Love.
Bro. Ken JP Stuczynski is a member of West Seneca Lodge No.1111 and recently served as Master of Ken-Ton Lodge No.1186. As webmaster for NYMasons.Org, he is on the Communications and Technology Committees for the Grand Lodge of the State of New York. He is also a Royal Arch Mason and 32nd Degree Scottish Rite Mason, serving his second term as Sovereign Prince of Palmoni Council in the Valley of Buffalo, NMJ. He also coordinates a Downtown Square Club monthly lunch in Buffalo, NY. He and his wife served as Patron and Matron of Pond Chapter No.853 Order of the Eastern Star and considered himself a “Masonic Feminist”.
As a masonic speaker throughout New York State, he has also given presentations at town hall meetings regarding the use of technology in the Craft. His numerous Empire State Mason articles have been republished in Arizona and New Jersey. To aid in his outreach on these topics, he authored “Webmastering the Craft: Fraternity in a Digital World”, available worldwide in softcover and eBook.
Having lifelong interests far and wide across philosophy, world religions, and all the natural sciences, his degree is in Philosophy with a concentration in Ethics and a minor In Psychology. He has written articles and essays on the topics of science and religion, culture and politics, business and economics, technology and futurism, as well as various aspects of social psychology. Usually, with interdisciplinary contexts, many of these focus on the ideals of intellectual honesty and tolerance in all forms. Having edited and contributed to Books of Transactions by the Western New York Lodge of Research of which he is a member, he plans to formally publish some of his larger works, starting with the upcoming book, “Contemplations on Astronomy”, and a special Masonic edition will contain his “Astronomical Tour of the Lodge”.
He runs his primary business, Kentropolis Internet, from home where he lives with his wife and plenty of pets. In addition to various community service projects, he teaches Tai Chi to veterans at the VA Recovery Center. He is also an independent interfaith minister with hospital chaplain credentials who does weddings, funerals, memorials, and other services. His personal project is the “Earth 2 Mouth” program which connects farms, volunteers, and soup kitchens. He also enjoys carpentry and keeps bees with his daughter at an organic farm in East Otto, NY."