by David Moore, District Deputy Grand Master, 29th Masonic District
As a Registered Nurse in a management role, I frequently round on patients to check how their stay is going and assess how well my employees are doing their jobs. Getting to meet new people and form new relationships is my favorite part of my job. An added benefit is that I will occasionally get to meet a brother.
A few years ago, I met an old Past Master during my daily rounds. He was frail and elderly, but the moment he spotted my Past Master ring, his eyes lit up. He immediately insisted on shaking my hand again in a manner in which was proper, as he said. I sat down, and we talked for a few minutes, giving each other our Masonic resumes. He was a Past Master of a lodge from a neighboring district; he had relocated to my hometown when his wife got sick to be closer to her once she had to be put in a nursing home. You could feel his pain as he talked about her getting progressively sicker and eventually passing away. He had no family left in the area; their only son had relocated out west for his job. We talked for quite a while, as if we had been friends forever – part of that special bound that we as brothers all share. I made time to visit for a few minutes every day while he was a patient, until he was stable to return home and was discharged.
As is the case with most patients who have chronic health issues, they tend to make more frequent hospital visits as their disease progresses and they become more debilitated. On every admission, we always found time to talk. He would be there for a few days, and we would get him tuned up as best we could, and then he would be discharged.
Several months later, he came into the hospital for the same issues. We had our normal conversation we had during most of his visits; we spoke briefly of how things were going with each of us and then talked more about the lodge. I was sitting in a meeting a few hours later when I heard the call overhead asking for assistance for a patient being violent in my area. I hurried from the meeting to the unit. One of my nurses met me at the front door and said, “It is your friend.” Upon arrival to the patient’s room, I found him violently lashing out at staff. He was hitting, scratching and attempting to bite the staff as they were trying to assist him. His respiratory status had taken a turn for the worse, and staff were trying to intervene, but his oxygenation had dropped very low, making him confused. I asked everyone to step back and let me take care of it; this is not uncommon based upon my size and gender, but my staff were shocked when they saw “how I took care of it.” I simply went over to the bed and got a hold of my brother’s hand, leaned over and whispered in his ear. He immediately relaxed, and my staff were able to continue to treat him. My staff questioned me about what I had said to him. I told them all I had said was, “It’s ok, brother, we are trying to help you.” That was all that I had said, but when it was accompanied by the familiar handshake that was so deeply ingrained in my brother’s mind, he knew those words to be true.
My brother passed away comfortably that afternoon. I often find myself thinking about events such as this and the profound effect that grip and those few words had during a time of crisis. It was obvious to me that my friend was a good Mason. Although he had not been active in his lodge for several years, you could tell that he lived his life according to our principles and loved our fraternity.