My Brother

My Brother
By Bro. Todd M. Paterek

This past year I got to know an older Brother quite well.  It started with a request to take him to his doctor’s appointment and back to his assisted living home.  One hour, at most.  Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, I recently started working from home and thought that an hour or two out of my day for a Brother is the least I can do to help.

The “Fun” began when I picked him up.  I drive a pickup truck, like any other, is a bit higher off the ground so getting him in was a bit of an exercise, for both of us.  Right foot here, left cheek there (I cleaned up his words) and in he went.  At the Doctor’s office, it was a fumble of paperwork and insurance, I offered to help but he had everything under control.  His name was called, and I waited and waited.  I began to wonder if I would be able to get my work done or if I would have to work late to make up for the lost time.  I took some phone calls and answered a few emails and a “quick” hour later he was ready to go.  No, not home yet, he needed a couple of things at the durable equipment store.  Socks and a cane, I do not remember exactly but they did not have either of them anyway.  He was not quite done, time to go grocery shopping.  I followed him around the store as he chose the right peaches, looked for the hot cocoa he always bought and rummaged around here and there.  We held up numerous people as he struggled to maneuver his walker through the displays.  One man commented behind me under his breath “let’s move it old man”.  With a gentle voice, I turned and requested that he show some respect for the man I was starting to grow impatient with myself. This Mason, my Brother.  It was that second I realized that there was no other place in the world that I would rather be than helping my Brother with the simple tasks of life.  We finished his shopping trip, capped by confusion at the self-checkout.  We laughed together instead of me trying to hurry him along, an employee came over to help and we got her laughing too.  By this time, we were about three hours into the day, and it was lunchtime.  I suggested we get lunch he said okay but he insisted that he treated.  I told him he gets to pick the place then.  He chose Ted’s Hot Dogs (good choice).  Because of the pandemic, it was drive-through only and the line was long since they didn’t have an official drive-through.  I used the quiet time to ask him what our Lodge was like when he was my age.  He told me about parties with bands, dancing, and everyone brought their entire family.  He spoke of good times, and bad at Blazing Star.  He told me to keep pushing to get our Lodge back to the glory of those days when young men became Masons, Masons filled the seats, and all enjoyed Fellowship, Brotherhood, and the wonders of Masonry.  He encouraged me to keep trying because Masonry and our Brothers are worth the time and effort.

We finally got our foot-longs and fries, he realized he did not bring any money, Yadda, yadda, yadda, and we found an empty parking lot to eat, and relax.  We talked about this and that and mostly enjoyed the sun and each other’s company.  As we took our last bites, I asked him; “what else can we do?”.  He was hesitant but asked if we could go to his house because he had to pick up a few essential things.  Without hesitation, we were on our way.  When we got there, I could tell there was a change in his usual happy manner.  I assumed he was flooded with memories of his wife who recently passed.  He noted that his daughter moved the TV and couch.  “Things are not where they should be”, he remarked.  We talked about holidays spent there, his children, and other subjects not so important.  Then he stopped and just looked around.  With his back to me, he said, “I don’t think I’ll be coming back here anymore”.  I assured him that he will when he is stronger, and it will be sooner than he can imagine.  Reassured he gathered his important items (a tube of toothpaste, and a candy bar) and said he would like to go back to the assisted living home now.  We packed up and headed back.  The conversation was as quiet and slow as I drove.  I can only speak for myself, but I believe we both wanted to have something more to do, an excuse to not return to the “daily” of our individual lives.  Nevertheless, the day together was done.  We returned and we said our goodbyes.  I was honored that he called me another time to take him to the same doctor a month later.  It was not as much of an adventure, but we were able to share valuable time together again.  All cleared by the doctor he soon returned home with nursing care. 

I called him and talked on the phone for about 30 minutes he told me how much he wanted to get back to Lodge and to be sure to relay his “helloes” to everyone.  I told him I would pass his well-wishes, and when he is ready I will pick him up for Lodge and take him home. We said our goodbyes and agreed we would talk again soon.

A few weeks later I found out that he had passed.  I wanted to call him one more time, but I was always too busy.  I lost my opportunity, but I reminded myself that if it were not for that first “favor” I did I would not have even really known my Brother.  He touched something inside of me, something that makes me want to do better for each of you, for the men that are not yet Brothers, and hopefully for that Brother that will one day drive me around aimlessly.  The favor I did for him turned into the amazing life lesson he gave to me. Never wait, be there for your Brothers. Jump at the opportunity to help or a simple visit. I hardly knew him when I agreed that first day and now I can fully say he truly is my Brother.

My Brother receiving his 50 years of service award with his wife, the Grand Master of Masons in the State Of New York, The Deputy Grand Master, and the Master of our Lodge.

I want to know each of you in this way.  We are Brothers and that is one thing, but can you honestly say that you would shed a tear if I passed tomorrow.  Would I for you?  I am not sure. The goal is not the tears that fall after a Brother passes, the goal is the Brotherhood formed while we are together.  When the heart empties and the tears fall, we know a True Brother has left us.  It is fortunate for us left behind that we have each other.  Once again, I am reminded of our First Degree prayer Psalm 133.  We live together in Unity, we work together toward a common goal, the rewards are outstanding for everyone, and we, like those Brothers that have gone before us, will continue to live in the hearts of our Brothers forever. 

I wish we were all close Brothers.  That we would come together to work, relax, have fun, and learn.  We have this Lodge that was built by our Brothers before any of us were born.  Year after year our Brothers met here as we do each month.  However, they also came together in Fellowship and grew the bond of Brotherhood over time.  When one passed they mourned together and took comfort in each other.  When one was in need the others all helped without asking. When one celebrated, they all celebrated.  I believe we can have that here at Blazing Star again.  We have the sparks, we just need to let it burn. 

We Have A TV Winner!

Congratulations to John and Debbie P. winners of the 55″ TV. We want to thank EVERYONE who purchased a ticket or more. The funds raised will help us continue our charity work in the area. Specifically, we help The Fish of East Aurora food pantry, Rural Outreach Center, Bread of Life, and many more. I understand it would feel better watching a new TV but keep in mind your donation IS going to help those in need. Thank you for your kindness in helping our community.

October 27, 2020 Communication

Our last communication on October 27, 2020, was very informative. Even without an actual program, the Brothers pulled together for some good Masonic teachings. First off was Bro. Paterek with the Masonic Minute (we should find a new title for that). Brother Paterek read an original paper relating the stages of Halloween to each of the Masonic Degrees. You can read it below this post. We attended to some needed business before our SW Bro. Snyder put on a presentation of symbols and how they connect heaven and earth, God and us. If you are not at Lodge you are missing out on some fine Masonic education.

Fellowcraft TV Raffle:  The members of the Fellowcraft club arranged a TV Raffle.  You can win an RCA 55″ 4K, Ultra HD (2160P) HDR Roku Smart LED TV  Tickets can be purchased for $2.00 each or three for $5.00.  The drawing will be held on January 30, 2021, plenty of time to get it set up for the Superbowl!  Please contact W:. Markus for further details or to purchase tickets.

W:. Capron brought up the idea that since we can not actually give the password in Lodge due to the current COVID restrictions, from now on a couple of canned goods or non-perishable food items will be required in lieu of the password to be admitted into Lodge. As part of our community involvement, we will be collecting these items for our local food banks. It is a small way we can give back, and also pay it forward. With the Holidays coming this can help make someone’s Thanksgiving a real giving of thanks. But with that said we will continue it thru this Masonic year, donating for Christmas and Easter. It can be re-evaluated next year by the Master and stopped or modified to go with the current social/covid conditions and restrictions. It is positive for our Lodge and our communities. So remember this is the way to be admitted into Lodge as a symbolic “password”.

This outstanding idea is one wherein one evening we can literally donate enough food for several families to have several meals.  Just another way we are helping our community.  W:. Capron is requesting that this practice continues through the end of his term but we sincerely hope it will become a Blazing Star Tradition that lasts long into the future.

Are you interested in Freemasonry?  Contact us to learn more.

A Masonic Halloween
By: Bro. Todd M. Paterek

The connection between Halloween and Freemasonry is not very distinct.  On the surface why would we want to associate a child’s holiday filled with skeletons, ghosts, and candy with such a distinguished fraternity?  Stay with me and I will try to explain.   I can still remember the smell of the hard-plastic masks and plastic costumes we all had the pleasure of wearing.  They were easy and got the job done.  We could put them on and harvest a huge crop of candy.  Honestly, I had far more fun building my costumes with my parents.  Always a little too close to October 31.  I didn’t acquire any more candy but the satisfaction of building a costume with my own hands was far better than the quick and easy Woolworth’s costumes.   Add some apple cider and donuts as a staple and it kept our energy at a maximum.  One year I was Dracula, complete with a coffin that opened and closed plus bats flying above me (I got second place at the Fork’s Fire Hall Halloween parade).  It did not matter that I won or only came in second place (I was much better than that pumpkin daughter of the chief!); I got my candy.   The exuberance of youth was on my side! 

“for there, the Lord commanded the blessing, even life forevermore.”  

As I grew older and began to raise my own family the holiday changed for me.  I passed from the carefree younger days running around gathering as much candy as possible that I expected to last forever, to the parent overseeing my children as they did the same enthusiastic, carefree search for more candy I did in my youth.  Being older now I am responsible to guide and teach my children through the night’s festivities.  I must temper their passions from time to time, but I like to let them have as much fun as possible because as we all know, it ends all too quickly. 

“Behold, I will set a plumbline in the midst of my people”  

My children are growing up and some are already too old to trick or treat.  The night is beginning to take on another meaning.  Skeletons and ghosts will soon be my fate.  Nobody is immune to the icy touch of the Grim Reaper (which was another costume I made with my parents).  I am reminded of a Masonic quote that is universally used throughout the world; “Memento Mori” which literally translated from Latin means; “Remember that you die”.  However, reflecting on the meaning I want to propose a deeper meaning.  Yes, we all will one day die that is painfully true but because of that fact, we must also remember to live.  People say “you only live once” but that is not true, you only die once but you live every day.  Halloween is a celebration of the life you are living because you are not yet dead.  However, when your time comes near and you look back on your life, ask yourself these questions.  Did you enjoy it as much as possible?  Did you help others enjoy their lives as much as possible?  Will you be proud of the man you became because of the legacy you left behind?  One day you too will look like him.  Just like every other human on this planet that ever was or will be.  However, your actions now as you live should have lasting positive influences that are remembered long after you put down your working tools.   

“Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not”  

We are all still young, while we have a breath to breathe, we are children with all the excitement and anticipation of any child running house to house gathering candy.  We may not gather candy anymore; our grinder may not be as sharp.  However, maybe it is the sweet taste of Fellowship, the satisfaction of fundraising for the less fortunate, or possibly the addicting pursuit of knowledge and more Light.  Now is the time Brothers while you still have breath because one day your bones could be up here while another gives a speech.   

“Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.”  

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