Continued from Papa Bear's Tale: The Interview - Part II
1. You have a prominent tattoo on your forearm. Tell us about it. When I was fifteen I tattooed a crude J for John on my arm. I've always hated it. A few years back I found a decal in a motorcycle magazine that portrays a bald eagle overlaying an American flag. I thought would make a cool cover-up tattoo. When I met Josie she decided to have it done for me as a Valentine's Day gift. It turned out great, with vibrant color and amazing detail. I've been given hundreds of compliments on it.
2. (Guest question from Annie) I understand that you think of sushi as bait. I must assume by this that you like to fish. What is the biggest fish you ever caught? (No "fish tales"...tails?) The biggest fish I've caught was a fifteen pound striped bass that I landed at Lake Proctor last month. He put up quite a fight and I didn't think I was going to land him. He tasted mighty good in my belly :-) My favorite place to fish is Caddo Lake in East Texas where the above photo was taken. It is the only lake in the state of Texas that has 2000 year old cypress trees and alligators. I've been fishing there since I was nine years old.
3. Of all the places you've visited, which was your favorite, and are there any places you've never been that you'd like to see someday? The place I loved the most was Colorado. I rented a jeep and drove over mountain passes that were over 13,200 feet in elevation. It was the most beautiful place I've ever been! I'm still trying to persuade Josie to go there with me, but she has a strong dislike of heights and winding mountain roads. What a weenie! :-) I'd like to visit the Giant Redwoods in California, and go to Alaska, and Ireland - the home of my ancestors.
4. What made you decide to become a Freemason? When I was a young boy I used to notice that many of the town's men went to a building each month, all dressed up in nice suits. I didn't know what the place was back then, but I remember seeing a square and compass on the front of the building. Many years later I noticed my great uncle wearing a ring with the same square and compass. I asked him if he was a Freemason and he said yes. Then I asked him how I could become one, and he said "You just did - to be one ask one." Thus began the process of me becoming a Freemason. In 1995 I was raised to the degree of Master Mason, and became a 32nd Degree Scottish Rite Mason in 1997. I served as Worshipful Master of my Lodge in 2009, and now enjoy the status of being recognized world wide as a Past-Master.
5. What effect has being a Freemason had on your life? Freemasonry turns a good man into a better man through it's teachings and precepts, and thru fellowship with other brethren. No matter where I go, when I see someone wearing the square and compass, I know that I am in the company of a brother Mason. Many of this country's founding fathers were Freemasons including George Washington and Benjamin Franklin.
6. How has time and experience changed you? In what ways are you different from who you were 25 years ago? Over the years I've developed more patience and tolerance. I guess you could say I've mellowed out. I've learned that I'm not bullet-proof and I'm not going to live forever. Other than that, I think I'm pretty much the same person I've always been, my beliefs and opinions haven't really changed all that much.
7. What would you like to tell today's young people who are graduating? To be self-sufficient and accountable in their lives, to work hard for they want, and to conduct themselves with integrity.
8. You have a great sense of humor and playfulness, and have been known to address unsuspecting people in silly voices. What other funny things have you done? Picture two people in their fifties engaged in a food-fight over a shared piece of chocolate cake in a restaurant! Cake was flying everywhere and we were both laughing so hard tears were running down our faces. People sitting around us were staring and probably wondering who let us out of the home! We did clean up the mess before we left.
9. (Guest question from the Lady in Red) How and when did you know that Josie was the one for you? I knew that I wanted Josie to be with me forever because she made me happy, and she made me laugh, and she helped me forget all my troubles. We knew we wanted to make a life together just a few weeks after we met. A lot of people thought I was getting married again too soon after my last wife died, but I asked them how long I should be alone. I have always been married and I am used to having a woman to share my life with. Josie is the most unusual woman I've ever met and I knew our life together would be fun and interesting. I love Josie even more today than I did yesterday, my love for her continues to grow with each passing day.
10. What advice would you give to couples regarding relationships? To always say your sorry. It doesn't matter if you think you were wrong or not. The best way to end hard feelings is to apologize. Don't go to sleep angry with each other.
11. (Guest question from Louise) Have you counted your blessings today? And is Josie at the top of the list? :) Not a day goes by that I don't thank the Lord for everything that He's given me, including Josie. I love her more than all the stars in the sky; I love her more than words can say.
~*~*~*~*~*~*~This concludes my interview with Papa Bear. We hope you've enjoyed these brief glimpses of his life. It doesn't even begin to scratch the surface of all that he has experienced in the past 58 years. I am planning to write his biography as a gift to his children, his grandchildren, and the generations to come. Papa Bear's tale is the story of overcoming hardship and becoming the kind of person you want to be, despite what life has handed you. Papa Bear is an amazing man, to be his wife is an honor and a most precious gift! I urge you to treasure the people in your lives, and listen to their stories! - Josie