Grange Halls

I visited Zula Kickbusch again today. She was less alert than on Sunday, and remembered nothing of my previous visit except that I was there. We spoke of her childhood, of my parents’ death, of her love for her retirement complex, and of her readiness to die. She said she felt tired from the toxins building up in her system, so I avoided challenging subjects. When all is said and done, what would be the point anyway? What might an aged woman teach me about the approach of death? I can be inspired by her dignity, and that is a great blessing to be sure, but we all stand before a wall that we can neither see over nor around. When the day comes that a hidden door opens to us, we go on alone, and have no more communication forever with anyone on this side.

I also drove to the small town of Elmira to help install their Odd Fellow officers. So many of the members have died that the lodge sold its two-story lodge hall, and rented a space in a rundown Grange. Most of those present today were in their eighties, and I reflected that the Elmira lodge would soon be a forgotten part of history.

I have only been inside two Granges, and found them pretty much alike: naked fluorescent bulbs, dirty bathrooms, badly made plywood furniture, cardboard boxes stacked along the walls, and almost nothing of beauty. The corner of the secretary’s desk in the Elmira lodge was patched with duct tape that looked like it was applied years ago.

The Grange members’ laziness had resulted in one asset. When they bought a gas oven, they left its wood counterpart right where it sat. With a little more energy, they might have hauled it to the dump. I can but hope that my experience of Granges is not representative. I have never been inside an ugly Odd Fellow lodge or an ugly Masonic lodge. Some have fallen victim to neglect as their membership dwindled, but even those are like ruins that hint of a former grandeur.

Tonight, I go to the regular meeting of my IOOF lodge. Tomorrow, I will drive to yet another small town to install its officers, and then my job as district deputy grand warden will be at an end.