This week’s contributor contacted me a week ago, having read my call for contributions on a Facebook page. He wanted to have something ready that week, but as life and children often get in the way of the best of intentions (oh those priorities!), he was unable to make the deadline. It comes with much anticipation and excitement to present to you this week’s contributor, Brother Joshua Shoe.
Bro. Joshua Shoe was raised at Bartlett #211 in December of 2013 and was elected treasurer of his class this spring at the Scottish Rite Reunion in Memphis, TN. First and foremost, he is a husband and father. He is also a member of the Memphis music community for many years, co-owner and lead fabricator at Rockin Recycling: a company that turns recycled materials into handmade folk instruments whose proceeds support local music and cultural institutions such as The Center for Southern Folklore and The International Folk Alliance, as well as various charities Belly Rubs Basset Hound Rescue and The Treadway Foundation. He and his wife also own a small custom motorcycle and performance engine company called Made Machine LLC. He has a degrees in mechanical design and engineering, and he is currently working towards a master’s in business administration. He is a proud Mason with deep roots in his community and no plans of slowing down.
It’s About Where We Are Going
As a child, I knew what I wanted out of life. I didn’t expect much, just that I would be the next Garth Brooks, own a horse ranch, have the coolest motorcycle, be as big as my dad, and eat (or not eat) anything I wanted whether my mom liked it or not. These things changed every couple of years. I never thought about school, family, fatherhood, or how I would get where I was going. Unfortunately for the kid I used to be, life happens. It happens fast and hard for some of us and we are left wondering what to do with no one to answer and who to be without any to tell us.
When I was a child I just knew that I would be great. I was going to do great things and have great things. No one told me that things can get in your way real fast. I am grateful that none of my family held me back because it allowed me to be a dreamer which is probably the only thing that kept me going. When I was four my parents got divorced, and they didn’t sit us down to tell us like in the movies. My mom just took us to my grand-parent’s house one night and we never went home. My dad was my hero and my best friend and he was still there, but I was gone. I left my dad and I wasn’t old enough to do anything about it. My mom and older brother seemed to move on and I was just left behind waiting to go back home.
We got another place in a neighborhood (not like the farm I was used to), and things just sort of, kept going around me. I started school and began playing music. I wanted to be a professional skateboarder now. My grandmother bought me the greatest skateboard a kid could have and it was awesome, until one day when I wasn’t looking both ways and skated out in front of a Buick. I was in a coma, my left femur was crushed, all the skin torn from my back and face because I got stuck under the car and dragged a couple hundred yards. I woke up in the ICU and my dad, my hero was holding my hand. He was back. My dad held my hand while they drilled a steel rod through my shin bone to hang weight and try to re-align my leg. He was there every day until the day they wrapped me in a body cast and sent me home in a wheelchair.
You can’t hold me down too long. I healed amazingly fast and was back on my feet in no time. I only missed one year of school. My mom started letting me go to my dad’s on the weekends, even though she made it painfully clear she didn’t want to. Maybe getting run over by a car was a good thing; I had my best friend and my hero back in my life. I was 9 years old, which in my family is old enough to ride on the back of Dad’s Harley, and it’s the year you learn to deer hunt. I hadn’t slept all night looking forward to my first hunting trip, but in the morning my mom took me to my grand-parent’s house again. My hero and my best friend who I just got back was gone. Someone ran a stop sign and hit my dad, throwing him from his Harley and breaking his neck.
For me, a lot of my life just stopped at 9. I didn’t care anymore. I didn’t have any dreams. I didn’t want a hobby. I didn’t care about school. The only thing that made it worse was the person who I had left, my mom. She made me feel worthless, because I was “exactly like my loser father.” My mom re-married to someone I wouldn’t have liked even if he was a good person. Soon after my brother was old enough to move out and I was stuck. I didn’t have anyone. I was angry all the time. I hated everyone. I dropped out of school two weeks into my sophomore year with no intention to do anything.
Here’s the part I never knew about my dad; he was the Tennessee president of the oldest and largest motorcycle club in the world. My mom had always told me she took me away from him because she didn’t want me around the drugs and violence that was my father’s lifestyle. I still meet people today who tell me they knew him and how he was a gentle giant who everyone was afraid of. That’s funny, that’s what people say about me. Drugs and violence pretty well sums up my teens and early twenties. I knew my life would change or just end someday soon. I was just like my dad who only lived to 32. I rode motorcycles and lived fast. I was deeply involved in the same lifestyle, and even surrounded myself with the same group of guys as my father. I could fix anything just like my dad, but my passion, like my father, was motorcycles.
I “didn’t really care” my way through several relationships, one that resulted in a beautiful little girl whose mother ran away with her to Chicago to get away from her father. I did it. I had become my father. Several years of trying to get my act together to be in my daughter’s life saw me working a regular job with an hourly wage and staying out of trouble. I didn’t even own a motorcycle. I met the girl who would later become my best friend and the woman I was lucky enough to share a life with. She was wealthy, a different race, grew up in another country, basically all things I had always hated other people for. We fell in love fast and decided to have a child together. Then just as things were good, my old ways and lifestyle came creeping back in. I almost lost my wife from it, and to prove to her that I was willing to do anything for her, I got my G.E.D. and enrolled in college.
Now I am a happily married father, engineering student, and….. something was missing wasn’t it? No one ever taught me how to be a man. I am an outsider in the world of adulthood and general man things. A friend who I had asked about Masonry and been a great support to me over the years mentioned it again one day. So, I asked if he would invite me to dinner. He said “I think you are ready now.” I petitioned and quickly made friends with good men from good neighborhoods who actually liked me. For the first time in my life I wasn’t poor white trash. These men liked me because I was honorable, intelligent, and I wanted to be a better husband and father.
I grew to know the men in my Lodge and others as I joined other bodies. I have a whole new life now surrounded by good men who I love and look up to. We cook out together and go camping together. My wife and I just invested in a shop to open my own business. People respect me and my neighbors think of us as a nice young family. Masonry didn’t make these things happen. Masonry didn’t change my life. I changed my life, and when I became the man I needed to be, Masonry accepted me and has guided me ever since. I have almost nothing in common with every member of my Lodge, but they accept and support me, because of what Masonry has taught us. It’s not about where we came from, it’s about where we are going.
Thank you Bro. Josh Shoe for you contribution this week!
If you would like to be the next contributor, send me an email. I hope you will.