What an incredible evening I had with my father. I am so blessed.
Started off at his house after work today as we were getting ready to go to Harmony Lodge #20 in Salisbury (my lodge since Fownes #45 closed in Havelock). Tonight was Installation of Officers Ceremony and I hadn’t seen one for over 25 years. I needed a new apron case and Dad said he had an extra one somewhere in his closet. So I dug everything out in a pile and there were 4 apron cases…5 counting his wooden one that he carries the Past District Deputy Grand Master’s apron in. Of these other four cases, three had aprons. One is a nice newer case with his Fownes Lodge apron, another is Bob MacDonald’s (? maybe wrong name) (Dad somehow was given his apron when he died), and the third one is my great uncle Nelson Alward’s, from Salisbury. Dad got his apron too and it is beautiful with gold and ornate gilding. Uncle Nelson was apparently a past Deputy Grand Master of New Brunswick too, like Dad.
So the fourth case (that was empty) is Dad’s old and maybe original Fownes Lodge #45 case with the clip closure. So I asked him if I could use that and he said yes, of course. I put my apron into it and folded it up – and a surge of connections to past and present and future memories slid through me – I felt a tingle down my neck and back. With my father’s case and my apron in one hand and my father on my other hand, off we went to pick up Gerry Tingley and headed to Salisbury.
I hadn’t been to Lodge in years so can you imagine my senses were all alert as we headed in. We were early which was good as it gave me a chance to meet a few people first…calm the nerves… squeeze into my apron (a little tight). Then upstairs to sign the guest book and help carry extra chairs into the Sanctum… expecting a crowd. This night was the Deputy Grand Masters annual visit (Steve Allen)…and the 2013 Installation of Officers of Harmony Lodge #20. Dad was giving the “Charge to the Worshipful Master” at the end of the ceremony so I was really looking forward to that.
The ritual came back to me quite quickly. I remembered all the salutes. The Installation Ceremony was wonderful to watch especially since I hadn’t seen one in years. It was wonderful to see it all come back. Several of the lessons were give by excellent presenters who you could tell were well rehearsed and knew their lines. Finally it was Dad’s turn to give the “Charge to the new Worshipful Master” (Joel Bleakney)… he was flawless – so smooth and perfect, every word clear and loud. Quite a long charge with lots of lines. You could have heard a pin drop between his paragraphs. Everyone glued to the scene. Almost a wet eye moment. Gerry Tingley gave Dad a beautiful accolade when he said in all the times over the years since 1995 that he has been installed in some office or another and some of them repeatedly, this was the first time that someone other than Delbert Alward had installed him (Joel Bleakney did it – after all this was also Joel’s 5th time as Worshipful Master). And afterward from the East, the Deputy Grand Master and several other guest speakers including Jim Pike, drew attention to Dad’s years of dedication and service to the Lodge of New Brunswick. I was so proud and honored to have the opportunity to see that and be part of that memory. Not every son gets that honor.
Guess what I forgot to take with me…. my camera! (my bad .. memory) I’ll just have to go back. Dad did say something about getting me presented with a Lewis Jewel (for sons whose fathers were Masons)
Thanks for reading, Nelson.