June 14, 2013

FREY: Stranger shares moment of insight at Moose Lodge


---- — I live in Frankfort, home of Loyal Order of Moose Lodge #7.

Since lodges one through six no longer exist, we are simply known as “the oldest Moose Lodge in the world.”

We in Frankfort like that distinction.

Along with serving the best food in town (the patty melt on swirl pumpernickel and rye is the best one I have ever eaten), the Moose supports Moosehaven, a retirement community, and Mooseheart, a residential childcare facility.

Once upon a time, places like the Moose and other fraternal organizations were filled to the brim with members, and certainly there was no shortage of funds for upkeep. These days, people are busy doing other things, and sadly enough, memberships are dwindling.

As with many such organizations worldwide, old Moose Lodge #7 plays a tug-of-war with itself on a year-to-year basis.

Times being what they are, places like the Moose struggle to keep the doors open. At Moose Lodge #7, for instance, the once-paid positions, like cooks and waitresses, are now graciously manned by volunteers.

My husband has been a member of the Moose for almost 35 years. Since we want to be a part of the solution that keeps the place alive, we choose to eat dinner out at the Moose on a regular basis, always on Friday nights, and usually two times a month.

It is one of those places like in the 1980s comedy “Cheers,” a place where “everybody knows your name.” The waitress knows that we all like ice water, for instance. The cook lets us know when there is homemade coleslaw on the salad bar, and will oftentimes reappear after dinner to make sure everything was prepared to our satisfaction.

On one of our nights out for dinner, and after paying the bill, our son Charles excused himself to wash his hands.

We found him at the end of the hallway near the front door fully engaged in a conversation with a man we had never seen before.

The man, Charles later said, had simply held the door open for him. After Charles said thank you, the man complimented him on having good manners. Charles added that the man told him that his parents did a good job raising him.

The man remained, waiting for my husband and me to also walk through the open door.

As I approached, I noticed the man’s kind face and bright eyes. After saying thank you, I told the man to have a good evening.

With a smile on his face, the man, who mentioned he was a former Marine, contentedly said the following: “I will have a good evening. I will have a good tomorrow. And if I don’t, ma’m, it’s my own fault.”

As often happens in life, there are fleeting moments of time, seconds really, when we encounter a complete stranger who offers words of wisdom, who has something important to say.

“And if I don’t, ma’m, it’s my own fault,” the words reverberated.

If we are listening, the words make us take note, make us stand up a little taller, and afford us the opportunity to reflect for just a wee bit. We are, in short, given a gift. These rich moments are somehow absorbed into our being. They enhance our lives and alter our outlook.

Such was the outcome after the brief conversation, an interlude, if you will, with the man standing by the door at the oldest Moose Lodge in the world, a place almost forgotten, on a balmy spring night in Frankfort.

Alvia Lewis Frey is a columnist for the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at