At age 89, after living alone comfortably for three decades, Mary* slipped and fell. For three terrifying days, she laid on the floor. She couldn’t get up or even move. She had no family; no one who would worry when they didn’t hear from her. She was helpless.
Mary’s husband had passed in 1974. But for more than 30 years, his lodge, San Francisco Lodge No. 120, continued to mail her annual letters. She saved every one. And on the third day, when she finally managed to get herself to the phone, that’s who she called.
Three brothers rushed to her house to help. She was obstinate: They were not to call 911. So they stocked her pantry and sat with her instead, talking about her health and long-term safety.
Eventually, they helped Mary make a second phone call, this one to Masonic Outreach Services (MOS). She was ready to move into assisted living, and she was ready for MOS to help.
“I walked in knowing Mary was ready,” says Liz Tarzon, Mary’s care manager. “Thanks to the lodge, I already had a clear understanding of where to start.”
Liz helped Mary assess her finances, and found a power of attorney to manage her bills and legal concerns. She helped her choose an assisted living facility and walked her through the moving process. She visited her frequently at her new home, usually stopping on the way to pick up Mary’s favorite treat: Lucky’s fried rice. Mary was almost completely deaf, so Liz wrote out her side of the conversation on a piece of paper. As the months passed, they filled up notepad after notepad.
“She’d do this little silent laugh,” Liz remembers. “She was hilarious.”
Mary passed away at age 91, about two years after her first phone call to the lodge.
“She was very comfortable and she was in a good place,” Liz says. “That started with the lodge. Without them staying in touch all those years, where would she have been?”
If Mary hadn’t called the lodge, Liz doesn’t think she would’ve ever called 911, either. “It’s a frightening thought,” she says. “But that’s how much she trusted the Masons.”
“For a lot of our clients, the Masons are the trustworthy ones to call,” says Liz. “They know, ‘If I call the Masons, I will get help.'”
*Names and identifying details have been changed to protect client privacy.