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Simply Put

Jack A. Hendee, 32°

We are not getting old, simply changing like the seasons.

Actually, its’s not so bad after all is it? I mean this aging thing that started the day we were born.

How nice to have the luxury of time even though the days and seasons seem to race past. We can pause a little time each day simply to reflect on our past as we look forward to tomorrow.

We all have some great stories to tell about our own youth and the “hell” we raised. (Of course our kind of “hell” was simpler and kinder). Sometimes we prayed Mamma would box our ears because we knew that then she wouldn’t tell Dad of our misbehavior. After it was over, Mom would bake some cookies, and Dad always knew if we had been not so good. He would smile behind our backs and remember his own childhood pranks.

But time passed, and we grew like that great black walnut tree in the backyard, changing through seasons of growth as we learned about the people and things around us. We learned the value of pals, later to become lifelong friends. We learned values, too, like honesty and cleanliness and the meaning of one’s word.

We watched the seasons change. The beauty of nature came to us from the freshness of spring, the hot days of summer, the brisk breeze of autumn, the bitter cold of winter. Then back to glorious springtime. Always the changing seasons meant we were changing, too.

Many of us learned about duty to our country as we went away to strange lands. Some made the military their career, and others of us came home, settled down (more or less), and found our role as “adults.” Aging and changing continued, though perhaps we were too busy to notice.

And on we went, through family life, little league, PTA meetings, fishing, scouting, worries of a hundred kinds. Laughter of a thousand kinds. We found laughter beats worry ten times over, even while aging. Then, perhaps, we learned the most important value of all.

Belonging.

And so we joined our Lodge, and it was great! We accepted duties and challenges and made them into opportunities. The Lodge work made our daily life more interesting, too. The aging process slowed.

But then the seasons took over again, and soon there were the grandkids. My son made me a grandfather. How dare he! He should be in the yard with his puppy rolling in the summer grass. Now he knows just a bit of aging, too. Ha!

And so, seasons passed, and another miracle brought a great-grandchild into the world. There are simply no words to describe the incredibly silky smooth cheek or that tiny strong fist! This guy is slated for 75 homers a year and all the chairs in a Lodge. No doubt a Venerable Master one day. His aging, I hope, will be oh so slow. Let him enjoy the work and joy of life!

And so it is quiet tonight. An evening of empty nest. Peace is wonderful. My dear wife naps on the couch, and I watch her shameless sleep. How nice the way she can drop the day’s cares and relax.

Me, I am studying my copy of the Masonic code. Why? Perhaps just habit. I will never be called to render a decision, but it is my avocation, and it stays with me. It is easy now to spend time studying books from my Masonic library. Can it be 40 or so years? Good. Good. All the years have been so good.

And so we will go to bed soon, after the late news. I will feel her warm shoulder, and I will fluff her hair, and she will tell me what a pain I am. She is right, as always, but I am secretly very proud of her strength and wisdom. Wait a minute! How could such a perfect specimen such as myself be a pain? There will be, of course, no discussion on this topic.

Tomorrow we’ll rise, and I’ll be off to the Shrine Mosque, or Scottish Rite Center, or Blue Lodge, or wherever else I choose because aging allows this. I’ll visit with some Brothers and wait for my “appointment” with number two Grandson who will give me my orders. Perhaps he will ask me one more time if I will show him my black cap with the gold eagles on it. Then I will know, again, aging is a breeze. Getting old is probably for those who have no Lodge, no brotherhood, no family ties, no friends. No one to share these quiet times with, a true sense of blessed tranquility in our chaotic world.

Like me, I hope you have all the above. If so, we are the fortunate ones and will always be, for we are not getting old, simply changing like the seasons. Now we have the luxury and time to ponder and reflect and appreciate.