Sunday, January 8, 2017

‘Grab that lunch, get that drink, have that dinner together’


With the benefit of more than 24 hours to absorb the sad news, and six milk stouts, I am able to gather my thoughts now and say goodbye to a Brother Freemason whose absence will leave a sore wound in our lives that may never heal.

Just recently we were strategizing a lunch together. I figured it was best to wait until after the holidays when life would quiet down. Lunch is simple enough—we would while away hours at either one Brother Mason’s Italian restaurant or another Brother’s Indian place—but because we live about 100 miles apart, the getting together aspect required coordination. I procrastinated. Now I have only an e-mail from him that I waited too long to answer.

He was a pretty amazing figure, both in Freemasonry and without. A giant in physical stature, he possessed a calm and warmth we often associate with veterans of various clergies. Which is not to say he was without a spiritual life—quite the contrary. In fact, his thinking simultaneously permitted him down Freemasonry’s Chivalric and Rosicrucian paths while not leading him astray from his adopted system of a unique martial arts, meditative practice, and metaphysical belief rooted in a Hawaiian tradition. He even went as far as to establish a kung fu order and a martial arts school! (I was delighted to introduce him to Bill Chung one night years ago at an AMD meeting. Bill, gone now also, was H’ung Gar Kung-Fu Grandmaster, Second Generation Disciple of Quanzhou, Shaolin Abbot Chang Ding; and the New York Counselor/Advisor of the Hip Sing Association’s National Headquarters. That’s the Chinese Freemasons. But that’s a whole other story.)

He held the title “Kahu” from Kahu Lanakila K. Brandt on the Big Island of Hawaii, along with permission to teach the ancient Hawaiian metaphysical tradition known as poohuna. He was also a lineage disciple in the Chinese/Hawaiian martial arts style of Grand Master Daniel K. Pai. And if that wasn’t enough, he was an attorney in his professional life.

With the family, at a Commandery banquet, c. 2009.

And he was a dynamic family man! Cautioned against home-schooling his children by the experts in his life who don’t actually have kids of their own, he and his wife (a professional educator) nonetheless home-schooled their brilliant offspring who now are acing college at ages far younger than you and I matriculated. (Quick story: When he and his wife began dating, he brought her to an exclusive restaurant. I forgot the name, but his description of it reminded me of Poon’s in London, which was more like dining in someone’s house, as you sit outside the kitchen at a large table shared with utter strangers with the meals served family style. Anyway, the couple sits down only to find themselves having dinner with Ringo Starr and his wife. Hell, I would have married this guy for bringing me to dinner with one of the Beatles!)

I will miss the many very lengthy and very late night calls we shared, mulling over the pros and cons of Freemasonry, that is, commiserating over the state of the Craft. He was unhappy with things in Pennsylvania Masonry to the point that he left and joined a lodge in New Jersey. He believed things were better in Jersey. “You sure?” I warned him. He was…until, that is, several years ago when he saw what I was talking about. Appalled by what I’ll just describe as abuses of power at the top level, he opted to settle down in one of Philadelphia’s elegant lodges. He also had lodge memberships in Hawaii and London.

Speaking of London, my esteemed friend and brother was a member of one of those English guilds that dates back a million years: Guildable Manor’s Association of the Jurors of the Court Leet, Exchequer Court and Recorder’s Court. The kind of thing we anglophiles blush at.

He was one for whom I had great respect and affection—one of the very few whose advice I valued and heeded. I’m afraid all I really gave him in return was an introduction to Left Hand Brewing’s Milk Stout Nitro. (Which is nothing to sneeze at—it’s done wonders for me—but I still wouldn’t say it’s a commensurate reciprocity.)

Although we did have this thing: When he would ascend to the East of a Masonic body, he’d bring me in for the very first meeting to present a suitable lecture. We did it at Fairless Hills Lodge, then at Kensington-Kadosh Commandery, and then at Abington Chapter. Due to the aforementioned abuses of power, I wasn’t able to appear at his Cryptic Council on time.

You are wondering why he goes unnamed in this edition of The Magpie Mason. Well, I have written of him a number of times here, but several years ago he asked that I remove the actual mentions of his name for reasons I don’t need to disclose now. I’ll continue to honor that.

What I ask of you readers is to remember how little time we all have in this world. When you’re making plans to get together, don’t delay. Grab that lunch, or get that drink, or have that dinner together because you don’t know how much opportunity you have.

Alas, my brother. Until we meet again.

1 comment:

Christopher Hodapp said...

Thank you so very much for sharing this deeply personal account of him. I will respect his wishes as articulated by you and not link to it, only reluctantly, because that seems to have been what he wanted. He had his reasons, which explains why there is a dearth of information available online about him, despite his dedicated involvement over many years.

My time spent with him was very brief, and our friendship was superficial at best - the sort most of us make in this fraternity when encountering very special people only a few times, but feeling that closeness nonetheless. And yet. When a terribly unsettling episode happened to him in Hawaii several years ago, he picked up the phone to call me, of all people, about it.

He was part of a small group of us who bonded at Masonic Week, and part of that bond was through shared adversity. So many of us in that group were devastated at the news of his passing, and I suspect all of us spent much private time wondering at the why of it. He leaves some very big shoes to fill, and it was my honor to have known him. Please communicate to his family what they doubtless already know by now - that I stand shoulder to
shoulder with ALL those whose lives he touched in extending our hands to help them in any way possible.