One of my childhood memories as I grew up across the street from my Uncle was seeing his Masonic ring. I remember asking him what kind of a ring it was. He would say a Mason Ring. I asked him what a Mason was, and what did they do. I remember it was pretty and shiny and he seemed to be very proud of it. I remember I wanted to be one if my Uncle was. I also can remember what he said.
"One day when you are old enough, I will tell you about that ring".
Well, I was told, but I didn't think it would take 40 years. I went to see my Uncle yesterday in a nursing home in Oxford, Alabama. (03-18-01)
I am ashamed to say that I had not seen him in over 20 years. He had moved away and we sort of lost touch. He was lying in a bed, withered and worn down from old age, probably knowing he was in the last stages of his life. He seemed to be happy enough and I guess had accepted that he was where he was going to be. I shook his hand and could immediately tell that he was feeling to see if I was giving the proper grip of a Master Mason. Then he said something to me that I had not expected. He said, "That's wrong, turn it around." This was the first time we had seen each other since I became a Mason.
Well you see since 1981 I have worn my Masonic Ring with the emblem facing toward my hand. I did this because my coach at the time, wore his ring that way. He said it was to remind him that he was a Mason. I decided I would wear mine the same way. So for 21 years I wore my ring "wrong", although the Grand Lodge has said that it is up to the wearer, I decided to turn my ring around for my Uncle Woodrow.
After spending some time with my Uncle, I said goodnight and went to supper and the motel room. My thoughts kept going back to many years ago when he said :
"One day I will tell you about that ring."
The next morning before I left, I went to see him again. As I shook his hand, and told him goodbye, I could tell he was still checking my grip and he said as he looked at my hand, "Now that's better."
Thank you Brother Woodrow for telling me about that ring.
On June 6, 2001 I went back to Alabama to see my Uncle, the trip was to celebrate his birthday. On June 7, I stopped by the nursing home to tell him I was leaving, he passed away while I was there. We brought him back to Union, South Carolina and on June 9, 2001 I had the privilege of conducting my Uncle Woodrow W. Johnson's Masonic Rites. "The Ring" was read at his Funeral by the Pastor.
Roger W. Gregory, PM, Secretary, Union Lodge # 75 A.F.M.