I don't know why I assumed my dad would be buried with his Masonic ring since I knew it was a family heirloom that had been passed down to him from his dad, so it was both a blessing AND a surprise when my aunt, mom and sister all agreed I should have it. Normally I keep it on my "altar" with other trinkets and items of greater and lesser power. Here it is (upside down; sorry):
I have no idea what the monetary value is of this ring (nothing extraordinary), but it was the fanciest piece of jewelry anyone had in my family and the only diamond I ever felt familiar with. It was ALWAYS present on my dad's hand and seemed imbued with secret, mystical powers.
It's totally against the rules for me to wear it since I'm not a Mason and not a man, but sometimes I do it anyway to have my dad present. I wore it on a chain to my sister's wedding, and sometimes I wear it on my finger when I want to have him near me. I've put it on at times when I needed to be reminded of the depth of his values, patience, kindness and boundless love for others. His vehement opposition to hatred and distaste for petty anger, mean-spirited criticism and silly conflicts. When I need a reminder to be a better person and my dad isn't here to do it for me, I put on his ring. I should do it more often.
I wear it pointed at me so I can look at it the way I saw it on his finger, pointed out because he was a past Master. I'm wearing it today because I know how excited and happy he would have been to vote for Obama. I know how he would celebrate the progress being made and be proud to be part of these positive steps forward in history. One of the things that bothered my dad about Masonry was the segregation (white lodges and black lodges) and the really ugly, racist history and associations a lot of Masonic groups and individuals have.
During my dad's life they'd at least gotten to the point where they recognized each other's lodges and visited each other, but it was still really . . . ummmm . . . old-fashioned. When my dad was still mobile he took to visiting a black lodge in Seattle regularly and petitioned for membership there -- the first white guy to do that (how welcome that idea was to the Prince Hall Masons I don't know; if they were opposed to it my dad was totally oblivious to that). It was our state's white Masons, though, who made up some bullshit to block him having a dual membership (I can't remember the details and only happened upon them when I was going through his papers; if I remember correctly they lied and said he wasn't a member in good standing with the state; of course there may have been a lot more to it behind the scenes that I don't know about). My dad just contented himself with his honorary membership and waved off my protestations as stupid politics when I asked him "what the fuck??"
My dad is the one I went with the first time I voted for a president. We were SO excited about Clinton and I was SO young and optimistic I really felt hope in the marrow of my bones. I was positively WIGGY with optimism! Like a lot of people, I've naturally lost that feeling as I've gotten older and seen how even the good guys, when they're ALLOWED to do their jobs, aren't really all for progress and the last two presidential elections have been enough to seal me permanently in cynicism. I'm not even sure I will be able to feel anything more exciting than RELIEF if/when Obama wins. Not relief that everything or even most things will get better, but just a small assurance that I'm not living in a country dominated by the hopelessly brainwashed and criminally selfish. Relief that we can at least be proud of doing SOMETHING right.
I wish my dad could be here for this because his enthusiasm wouldn't be tempered by my black-spirited pessimism. I really wish my whole family were together for this and there would be hugs all around and crying and hysterical joy that we would always remember sharing together. Maybe we can get together on Inauguration Day. But today, tonight, and tomorrow I'm wearing my dad's ring and inviting him to be present when Delia and I celebrate here at home together. I hope.
Labels: family, memories, PHOTOS, politics, race, sociopolitical commentary, therapy, things I treasure, values, victory