2016 Fredericton Convocation
Delivered by: Branscombe, Daryl Kadey
"Speech at UNB Convocation" (20 October 2016): 1-5. (UA Case 67)
Members of the governing body of UNB and members of the 83,000 members of the Alumni family, some of whom may be with us today … and honored guests:
I cherish this opportunity to express my deep gratitude … for the honor you are bestowing upon me … and which I am connecting to my two boys … who have never left any of my agendas because what we love … becomes our centre of gravity … and has tremendous power to lead us … to what to look for, where to aim, and where to walk … even while walking with a limp.
Never in my wildest dreams … would I believe that I would be here … today … proud to witness my joy … in being part of the 231 year history of UNB … it is indeed a history … with many accomplishments … ingenuity … connected to determined people … who serves as a guiding force … for a wider world around us.
Indeed the incredible talents of faculty and researchers continue to make us proud.
I would like to thank my golfing buddies who orchestrated the application for this degree, led by one of the best … “Dwight Hawkins” who is a prolific writer and did a Hercules amount of work in writing the manuscript. When I read the application, I hardly recognized myself.
I am fortunate in having many friends in all walks of life. Catherine Karnes Munn did a painting in memory of my youngest son Anthony entitled “Forget Me Not.” On the back of the painting these words were written:
“Friendship is life’s greatest treasures.
Though time and miles may separate us,
we have built a bridge of lovely memories to span the
distance. When someone we love becomes a memory, the
memory becomes a treasure.”
My boys were my best friends. They were my joy, my life, my sorrow.
Today my best friend is my wife, Angela. She at times must feel she has a tiger by the tail. But she has stood beside me in the good times and the bad times.
Oh, let me live in a house, by the side of the road and be a friend of man.
I have a soft spot for UNB … for this is where I and the boys went. The board of governors recognized both boys posthumously for the determination, stamina, and resilience while battling their disease.
To the graduates I offer my most sincere congratulations. This is your day … a day of celebration and rejoicing for you have reached a milestone in your life. Some of you have sailed through the past few years with flying colors while others crammed for the final. I was one of the crammers who took courses in the summer and evenings while selling enclopedies to buy a brand new red impala Chevrolet.
Please indulge me for a few minutes while I share some wisdom from a battered old soldier. I used to tell the boys that behind this aging façade there is a young boy trapped inside.
One night I received a call in the middle of the night from Michael, my eldest son, who was a patient in the hospital. He was crying his eyes out. He asked if I could come over. When I went over I asked him what provoked this emotional lapse. He said earlier tonight I took a cab and went to one of my university classes. Halfway through the class he realized he couldn’t stay any longer as he was too sick … and that he could never return. At break, he listened to the conversation of the other students. One girl was angry with her mother over something trivial. One of the guys was talking about a new girl he met and wanted to date. Another girl was just having a bad hair day. Michael said I wanted to shout to them … don’t you understand how fortunate you are. All I want, is to be able to go to class and finish my degree.
- What is the lesson we can learn from this story? It is to count your blessings … name them one by one. You will have bad hair days throughout your life … and you will have tragedies. We used to sing that hymn at church. It started with count your blessings … name them one by one. There was a car accident and a young man became a quadriplegic. He spent month in therapy at the Stan Cassidy center. One night a family member went to pick him up and take him to see a movie. When he got outside, he started to cry. When asked what happened, he said “I looked up and saw the moon which I haven’t seen for months.” Have you seen the moon and the stars lately? Can you pick out the little dipper or the North Star? Do you listen to the birds chirping in the morning? Feel the freshness of a warm spring rain, or watch the sunset in Galloway Bay?
- Learn the therapeutic value of giving and sharing. I suspect most of you are sitting her today without many shekels in your jeans. But if you have no assets and want to help others what could you do? How about a smile, a warm handshake, a kiss, a hug, a phone call home, or to a senior, play the piano in front of city hall or bake a cake for someone, or volunteer for a special cause.
As you travel through life, you may get a call that will cause you to fall to your knees in despair. And sometimes it takes all the courage you can muster to get up. I’ve been there. I soon discovered that whenever I did something good in helping others, I felt better myself. This is very important. When tragedy occurs … some will be able to carry on, but others cannot… and they spend their entire life wallowing in self-pity. Learn to understand… to everything there is a season. A time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn; and a time to dance. Despite it all it is still a beautiful world.
- Life can be cruel at times. People may say and do hurtful things to you when you have given it all. When that happens, your immediate reaction is to get even. But I encourage you ... whenever possible take the high road … the road less travelled. My mother had a sign at our back door. “Love your enemies, it drives them nuts.” People know when they do bad things. Let them carry their guilt. I can assure you they’re not happy. And moreover there is comfort in being a martyr.
- Let love abound in all aspects of your life. Wayne Muller, author of How Shall We Live. “What we love … draws us forward and shapes our lives. Love has tremendous power. It can become our native language, make it yours.”
And I say to you it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. We can interpret love literally or metaphorically. It could also mean we have failed because we have never stepped out of our comfort zone. Weigh all the fact … but it is sometimes better to soar with the eagles than being entrapped in a career or a job that demoralizes your spirit.
I have so much more seeds of knowledge that I could share with you. But this is your day and I am certain you have more exciting things to do.
Let me close with the words of St. Francis of Assisi who wrote:
Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace
Where there is hatred, let me sow love
Where there is injury, pardon
Where there is doubt, faith
Where there is despair, hope
Where there is darkness, light
And where there is sadness, joy!
I resonate with these words and try to live them each day of my life – I hope you will as well.
May I wish each and every one of you here today, good health, happiness, and prosperity all the days of your life.
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