Every where we go and everything that happens to us we take something away from. Sometimes it’s a little thing and sometimes it’s a life changing revaluation. The latter of the two happened to me on the dates of October 18th-20th. As some of you know, my Father, Ronald S. Townsend, Sr. was a Mason, he is the reason I am a Mason. He passed away on October 17th after a quick fight with cancer, he was diagnosed at the end of June. Like everything he did in his life, he fought a brave fight. Only giving us glimpses of the pain he was going through, never wanting to be a bother. He even bought the stamps for his thank you cards beforehand. That was my Dad, always thinking of everyone else before himself. Well I thought I knew my Dad fairly well. Probably the only person that knew him better was his twin brother, my Uncle Donnie. They were two peas in a pod and inseparable. They had a bond that in my younger days I was envious and jealous of. As I grew older I learned to appreciate and understand it. But my eyes were opened at my Father’s viewings and at his funeral.
The first night was the evening we had his Masonic Funeral Service. I couldn’t have been more touched by how many of our Bothers attended. Over 70 Brethren attended. Needless to say we were overwhelmed with emotion. I was sitting beside my step-mother, Karen and my sister, Cheryl, as our Brothers started their procession into the funeral parlor. We could see them coming up the hall as they made their way to the door that came in the back of the funeral parlor. It was taking a long time for them to get in there and Karen looks behind and sees all the Brothers who at this point filled the room and even more are filing in. She leans over and asks me, “Are those all Masons?” I tell her that they are. At this point, her and my sister start to cry. You see, we in the Fraternity know the bond that we have with each other. Others on the outside don’t normally get to see the Fraternal bond we share. That so many of our Brothers came to pay their respects to my Father will touch me for the rest of my life. And they didn’t come just because he was a Mason, they came because he was their friend and their Brother. He had a relationship in some way with each and every one of them. I explained later to my family that we are not just some group or club, our Brothers are a second family. We feel each others joy and pain. I think they got to see a little bit of that and understand it a little better now. So thank you my Brothers!
In the following days, so many people came to pay their respects. Brothers who couldn’t make it to the funeral service, family and friends, fair board members from the various fairs that Dad had worked at, people he knew through his Constable work, former co-workers from Allegheny Ludlum, school classmates, and so many more. As each one came through the line I asked them how they knew my Dad. Everyone without fail had a story about how my Dad had helped them or touched their lives in some way. I knew that my Dad knew a lot of people but I didn’t know that so many loved and adored him. In the nights that followed I reflected many times on this. Then it hit me, that was my Father’s legacy.It isn’t how many cars are in the driveway, it isn’t how big or fancy your house is or how many toys you have. It’s the lives you have touched while you are here. I didn’t know it was possible to love and respect him more than I already did.Think about what legacy you want to leave behind. If I can leave even a tenth of what my Father did I will consider my life a success. It now reminds me every day, to be a little kinder, be more gentle and speak a little softer. He wasn’t just my Dad, he was so much more….
One little note of interest, we buried my Father 46 years to the day that he was raised to the Sublime degree of a Master Mason.
I can’t even begin to list all of the people that I need to thank that helped me and my family get through that week. You have helped us through dark days and we have more to come. As many of you know it’s not a loss that you ever really get over. We know it gets easier with time but thank you from the bottom of our hearts for all of your love and support. God bless you all.
Ronald S. Townsend, Jr Worshipful Master Apollo Lodge # 437