I attend a Master Mason degree

I attended a Master Mason degree last night. The candidate fainted twice (he hadn’t eaten much that day), which caused the degree to last so long that I had to leave early to pick Peggy up at the airport. As I left through the kitchen, I sorrowfully eyed the homemade pies that awaited everyone else, and would have had a slice had I known that the plane was going to be two hours late due to thunderstorms over Colorado.

Most of the people who gave me the Master Mason degree are dead. One of my most vivid and imposing memories is of the master of my lodge approaching me out of the dim light, “by the step, with the sign, and under the due guard of a Master Mason.” If, when I come to die, my final vision is of that moment, I will be content. Robert Medill was his name, and I attended his funeral a few months after I completed my degrees. He was one of two men who served as my teachers.

The other was Bud Stump, a professional leather craftsman. I learned the degree as he worked—and smoked—in his tiny shop with its low roof. The smoke was a torment, and I seldom visited Bud after I completed my degrees. I regret this because I was very fond of him. I did complain about the smoke, and he did promise to cut back, but I couldn’t tell that he did. He had been a chain smoker since World War II, and he still limped and was in pain from that war. When he died, his wife soon followed. I knew of her devotion to him, and was not surprised that she could not survive alone.

Peggy was sick the whole time she was gone and for two weeks before she left. She has seen two doctors and had a CAT scan, but still there is no diagnosis. I was so anxious for her welfare and so eager to see her again that I very nearly didn’t go to lodge last night, but, after I got there, I realized that lodge was exactly what I needed. It is truly an altered environment, unlike anyplace else.