Many Brethren have taken great pains in the planning for the financial burden of end expenses by providing well for their families after their demise. But what about the painful emotional expense a poorly attended memorial service can inflict?
In their later years, a good number of Brethren move to an area other than the location of their Mother Blue Lodge, Scottish Rite Valley, and other Masonic Body or organization. Many were frequent attenders at Masonic meetings and occasions. At our social functions, their wives met other Masonic wives and established friendships that provided a network of support in the event they needed to seek advice or assistance in some manner. But when these Brethren move to a new location, they too often fail to reestablish Masonic roots for themselves and their wives.
As a regular attender at Masonic celebration of life memorials, I have noticed a significant sense of pride by family members when Masonic members clad in white aprons assemble in large numbers. I often see the widow smiling and nodding in agreement as the presiding Brother voices the beautiful words of our memorial service. In these memorials, the question "Who is the departed Brother?" is not asked since he has made himself well-known in his adopted area of residency by affiliation with a Lodge and other Masonic Bodies or organizations. He has participated in their meetings and attended their social events with his wife. I personally know of senior members who would not think of missing a Masonic meeting even if they can no longer drive themselves. They and their wives car pool with an able, possibly younger, Brother as driver.
At our Stated Meetings, it gives us a sense of pride to hear the director of the funeral committee announce that 35, 40, or 75 Freemasons, most with their wives, were in attendance at a specific Masonic memorial service.
A report like that illustrates the deceased Brother was not just a card-carrying member unknown in his relocated area. Rather he participated fully with his wife in Masonic meetings and social events. Thus, he allows his widow to avoid needless emotional strain, the unfortunate end expense of a poorly attended memorial service.
To relocate to another city and not let near relatives know you are there is like moving to a new area and remaining unknown to local Brethren. We are your Masonic relatives, and we are pleased to welcome you and your family, but we must know you are near us.
Some of these relocated Brethren live in their adopted area for as many as 20 years without attending meetings or affiliating with a Lodge. The sad part comes when this Brother's widow goes through the painful effort of looking in the telephone book for a Lodge to perform the Masonic memorial service she knows her husband would have wanted.
Although many of us, without question, are ready to attend when a widow or family member requests a Masonic memorial service, I can't help feeling sorry for the bereaved widow and family when they witness a low turnout of Masons. At these services, I often wonder who the Brother is, what Lodge did he attend, and is this a celebration of his life or a reflection of procrastination and neglect? On the other hand, some sojourners who relocate to a new area regularly go to Lodge and become well-known. The Masonic attendance at their memorials is significant and heartwarming.
What are your plans? Will your wife and loved ones avoid the emotional toll, the end expense, of a poorly attended Masonic memorial service? Or will they take comfort from a demonstration of Masonic respect and brotherhood? It's up to you.
Note: Remember, all Masonic services are performed as a fraternal service. There is no charge. To arrange a Blue Lodge or Scottish Rite service, however, it is necessary beforehand to contact, respectively, the Secretary of your local Blue Lodge (where you live now) and/or the Secretary of your local Scottish Rite Temple.