by D. Todd Ballenger, District Deputy Grand Master, 55th Masonic District
I discovered the value of brotherhood early in my tenure as District Deputy Grand Master. Two Ohio Master Masons and their wives were traveling to attend a Rainbow Assembly in Pennsylvania when they were involved with a head-on collision with a truck. One couple was transported to West Virginia University Hospital; the other was flown to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. The Grand Lodge of Ohio reached out to their brethren in the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania, who in turn contacted the local Deputies in Pittsburgh. We were asked to go as quickly as possible to UPMC and offer any assistance that we could for the family. The collision had taken its toll – the wife had multiple fractures and bruises and was emotionally shaken. Her husband was in more dire circumstances: doctors had put him a medically-induced coma to help him heal. They were displaced, alone and trying to communicate with their family in Ohio. We took turns visiting this family on alternating days and did our best to offer assistance and comfort wherever we could.
After more than a week, we received word that the brother in a coma was awake, and we both hurried to visit him as soon as we were permitted. Our visit was a bit challenging, as he was still unable to speak after being on a ventilator for an extended period. When we spoke to him, he would reply with hand gestures and the use of a whiteboard. We told him that his family had been cared for, and his Pennsylvania brethren would continue to look out for him as long as he was here.
At that point, I removed the Grand Master’s pin from my lapel and gave it to my Ohio brother and told him that I wanted him to have it as a reminder that he has a lodge family no matter how far he travels, and people who will come to his aid regardless of where he is. I could see the tears welling up in his eyes as I fastened the pin to his hospital gown and knew then that I had just received a very personal lesson in the value of brotherhood.
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