By Neena Strichart
I have a pretty wonderful extended step-family. The Grommés came into our lives when “Papa” Jay Grommé married my mother in the early 1980s. Although “Pop” passed away in August 1999, his children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and even a couple of great-greats, are still every bit a part of our family as when he was still with us.
My stepbrothers, Jay Jr. and Michael, keep in touch with me, Steve and my mom on a regular basis, and we thoroughly enjoy our get-togethers. With Mom being 91 years of age, my brothers are very thoughtful and make quite an effort to drive up as often as they can to meet us for lunch, brunch or dinner. Many times we meet part way. Michael and his lovely wife, Betty, live in San Diego, while brother Jay Jr. and his bride, Nancy, live in Mission Viejo. Our favorite gathering spots are either at The Cottage Restaurant in Laguna Beach or over at Katella Deli in Los Alamitos.
A couple of weeks ago, we had the chance to attend a large gathering of the Grommé clan in honor of brother Jay Jr. (a longtime Freemason) who was receiving the Hiram Award from his Irvine Valley Lodge #671. The Hiram Award is an award presented to a Master Mason who has consistently served the lodge and the Masonic Fraternity with devotion over and above the duties required as a member of the organization. It is the highest honor other than being Master of the Lodge that can be bestowed on a member of a Masonic Lodge. The award consists of a certificate and a medallion. The medallion features a square and compass with the letter G in the center encircled with a laurel wreath. Surrounding the symbols are the words “Hiram Award, Dedicated Service.” The back of the medallion depicts the seal of The Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of the State of California.
There was a beautiful turnout for the event. Family members arrived from as far as Simi Valley and San Diego– all to honor our dear Jay Jr. Dozens of his lodge brothers were also present, as were many of his longtime friends. Mom was so proud to be there to honor her “eldest child”– just 8 years her junior! We were treated to a fabulous steak luncheon, an invocation, a flag tribute by Colet Goossens (one of Jay’s granddaughters), a flag-folding ceremony presented by Jay’s lodge brothers, a biographical narrative of the guest of honor and a finale that consisted of the presentation of the certificate and medallion. It was a wonderful tribute to a very deserving fellow. I love my big brother Jay and feel very blessed to be a part of the amazing Grommé clan.