I was sitting in my grandfather’s Ford truck on the outskirts of Brenham, Texas when I first asked him about his ring. My grandfather was, at this time in my life, a close friend of mine. We loved exchanging tall tales, the only difference is he swore his were completely true. When he answered my question, it was the first time he ever paused before he spoke.
“It’s a symbol of a group I’m involved in, we’re called the Freemasons.”
“What do Freemasons do?” I asked, excited.
“Well sweetheart,” he paused, scratching the stubble on his chin with dirt-crusted nails, “I’ll tell ya as much as I can, but there’s a lotta secrets I’m not allowed to say.”
He explained that the organization protected important secrets. It was the first time he wouldn’t confide his secrets with me, the first time he hadn’t made me feel special. I remember feeling left out, more curious than ever, wondering when he would finally tell me the secrets of the Freemasons.
Years later, I conducted my own research to fill the void that developed as my grandfather and I grew apart. It took me ten years to accept that my grandfather’s attention to me had a sinister motive, that I had suffered being abused by him at a young age. As the memories flooded back, I exiled myself from my family to hide the truth. At first, it was easy to lose myself in New York, but after a while I found myself searching for anything that reminded me of who I once was.
Looking into the Freemason’s secret organization, I found that they pride themselves on the character of the men involved. They aren’t allowed to speak about politics or religion during their meetings. One member stated, “Freemasons were raised well in that way.” They are considered to be philanthropic, their website boasting they’re, “the leading fraternal organization of the world.” Although their existence is globally known, what happens once they shut their doors is still unknown.
I found this information difficult to cope with. How could I pair the man my grandfather was to the men this organization states to initiate? I wondered if men like my grandfather existed in this space together, and why he felt compelled to join a group that’s only public message is to help. I eventually accepted not knowing the answers to the secrets I wasn’t told that day. It’s fair to say that we’re all living with secrets, and the truth is hard to come by.
Image by Amy Gia