I guess I really should say a little bit about why my journey began.
In 1984, my grandfather passed away. He had been a constant anchor in my young life, and he was, and still is, one of the greatest men I have ever known. He was quiet, but well-spoken, stern but loving, and was the epitome of what a Christian should be. His life was a shining example for me, as my own father's life was a perfect example of how not to live. I was his only grandchild, and he never spoiled me, but he never refused me love or education. I was 14 when he died, and my life lost a lot of focus for a while after that. Besides being a deacon in the church and a well-respected man in the community, he was an ardent mason. He loved attending lodge and did so whenever he could. He never talked about masonry or the lodge except to tell me that if I ever needed help, I was to find a mason and tell him who I was and who he was. I grew up knowing to look for the square and compasses.
Several years after he died, my grandmother decided I was man enough to take care of some of his things. One of the things she handed down to me was a small cedar chest. She told me it was my grandfather's masonic things, and that I should take care of them. Inside the chest were three aprons, two rings, and two tie tacks, along with a stack of dues cards. I put the chest on top of my wardrobe at home. I rarely thought about them and only took them out a couple of times. One apron was my grandfather's. He was raised in 1943. The second apron was my great-grandfather's. He was raised in 1919. The third was my great-great grandfather's. He was raised in 1909. The dues cards dated back to 1913. One ring and tie tack was my grandfather's and the others were my great-grandfather's. Two years ago, a burglar broke into my home and stole several things. He looted the little chest and stole the tie tacks and my grandfather's ring. (It was gold and my great-grandfather's was a pewter type metal, so he did not steal the pewter one.) Of all the things stolen, it was my grandfather's ring that bothered me most.
This past December I was talking with a friend and coworker, when I noticed his masonic ring. I told him the story about the burglary and my grandfather's ring. I asked him about becoming a mason, and he brought me a petition and agreed to vouch for me. I was also thrilled to learn that he was in the same lodge that my ancestors had been in. I went home and took down the cedar chest and realized there would be room enough for at least one more apron.
I had never set foot in the actual lodge until the night of my initiation, so I was a little surprised when one of the brothers took me over to an old black and white picture and asked if I knew who the man was. Although I had only seen his picture once before, I recognized my great-great grandfather immediately. His masonic pin displayed proudly on his chest. I was told that at one time that he had so many sons and grandsons in the lodge, that it could easily be opened with just them in attendance. All of those two generations are gone now. My initiation that night was extremely special because of the heritage I have there. I only wish I had done it 20 years sooner.
In addition to that, I received another surprise that night. My former scout master came to the lodge just for my initiation. Keep in mind, I am 42 years old, and I had not seen him for several years. He had taken a new job out of state back in the 1980's and had only recently moved back to this area. His home lodge is 30 miles away. By chance he was visiting the lodge on the night I was voted on. He found out the date of my initiation and made a special trip just to be present.
I was passed to fellow craft just 2 nights ago. I hope to be raised in May.